Many children are confused about the use of “的”, “地” and “得” in a sentence. They are three of the common mistakes I have to correct when I was teaching last time. These 3 are high frequency words and they are all read as “de”. So when children want to pen down the word, they are not sure which to use.
Here’s some tips on how to use these 3 important words:
1. “的” is used in front of a noun (ie. A word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea). Words in front of “的” usually describe or restrict the noun behind.
Sentence structure: Descriptive/ restrictive word + 的 + noun
Eg. 我的妈妈；公园的景物美极了；有趣的情节； 轻轻的河水
妈妈，景物，情节 and 河水 are nouns, so we should use “的” in front of them. 我 and 公园 restrict the noun behind; it’s not her mother but mine, it’s not the school’s scenery but the park’s. 有趣 and 轻轻 describe the noun behind.
2. “地” is used in front of a verb (ie. An action word). Words in front of “地” usually describe the verb behind.
Sentence structure: Descriptive word + 地 + verb
Eg. 他大声地回答问题； 愉快地唱歌；用力地踢球；开心地笑
回答，唱歌，踢球 and 笑 are verbs, so we should use “地” in front of them. Word in front of “地” describes the actions after it; it usually tells you the “how” of the action, eg. how did he answer the question (他怎样回答问题？他大声地回答问题)
3. “得” is used after a verb. Words that come after “得” further elaborate the verb in front. The emphasis is on the verb in front.
Sentence structure: Verb + 得 + words that elaborate the verb
打扫，笑，走 and 跳 are verbs. If “很”，“真”and“太”are used in a sentence, “得” will usually precede these words.
However, there are exceptions to the general rules above, depending on what’s the emphasis of the sentence.
Eg. 他高兴得跳了起来 (He is so happy that he jumps into the air)
高兴is a descriptive word and 跳 is a verb. The emphasis here is his happiness, not his jumping action. So we need to use “得” before the verb in this case.
In these 2 sentences, the only difference is “得” and “地” but it makes a lot of difference in the meaning. Sentence A emphasizes on “感动”, “哭了” elaborates on her emotion (ie. How is she emotionally touched?). On the other hand, sentence B emphasizes on “哭了”, “感动” is added to describe how she cried.