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Modifying nouns with adjective + "de"

One of the best ways to use the common character 的 (de) is to spice up your nouns with adjectives. By using 的 (de), we can connect sassy adjectives to otherwise boring nouns.

With a Noun

Structure

A very common way to modify nouns is to attach an adjective to them using 的 (de).

Adj. + 的 + Noun

This structure comes up extremely frequently and is an easy way to attribute features to nouns. Occasionally you will see this 的 (de) omitted, but note that if the adjective has two characters (e.g. 漂亮 (piàoliang) or 高兴 (gāoxìng)), the 的 (de) is generally required.

Examples

  • 漂亮 的 女孩儿 piàoliang de nǚháirbeautiful girl
  • 辣 的là de cài spicy food
  • 可爱 的 宝宝 kě'ài de bǎobaoa cute baby
  • 我 喜欢 新鲜 的 果汁 。 Wǒ xǐhuan xīnxiān de guǒzhī.I like fresh fruit juice.
  • 他 常常 买 便宜 的 东西。 Tā chángcháng mǎi piányi de dōngxi.He often buys cheap stuff.

Without a Noun

Structure

In some cases, it is possible to drop the noun from the pattern, and just use the adjective + 的 (de). This is kind of like saying "the big one" or "the red one" in English. In Chinese the 的 (de) serves the same purpose as the English word "one." By using this pattern, you can avoid repeating the same noun over and over again unnecessarily. Just be sure the other person is already clear which "one" you're referring to when using this pattern!

Adj. + 的

Examples

  • A: 孩子 喜欢 吃 什么 东西 ?Háizi xǐhuan chī shénme dōngxi?What food do children like to eat?
  • B: 甜 的 Tián de.Sweet food.
  • A: 你 喜欢 哪 种 女孩?Nǐ xǐhuan nǎ zhǒng nǚhái?What kind of girls do you like?
  • B: 漂亮 的 Piàoliang de.Pretty ones.
  • A: 你 要 喝 冷 水 还是 热 水?Nǐ yào hē lěng shuǐ háishì rè shuǐ ?Do you want to drink cold or hot water?
  • B: 冷 的Lěng de.Cold.
  • A: 你想 找 什么样 的 男朋友?Nǐ xiǎng zhǎo shénmeyàng de nánpéngyou?What kind of boyfriend do you want to find?
  • B: 有钱 的Yǒuqián de.A rich one.
  • A: 你 不 喜欢 吃 什么 菜?Nǐ bù xǐhuan chī shénme cài?Which foods do you not like to eat?
  • B: 辣 的Là de.Spicy ones.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books