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I have always known 得 as an adverb. For example 跑得很快 ,run quickly or run very fast. The following sentence

只有懂得节制欲望的人,才能享受到人生的真正乐趣

means "Only a person that understands (how to) control his desires can achieve true happiness." However, I don't understand the use of 得 here. I think I would have written it without the 得. Or is 懂得 a special phrase?

Thank you!

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Take a look at this answer. –  NS.X. Jan 14 at 0:33
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In 懂得, 得 is pronounced and means "gain" or "obtain", as in the first definition:

 1. 获取,接受:~到。~失。~益。~空(kòng)。~便。~力。~济。心~。

That is, 懂得 means "to obtain understanding".

The meaning you were referring to is a different use of the same character, and is pronounced de (neutral tone):

 2. 用在动词或形容词后的连接补语,表示效果或程度:跑~快。香~很。

It is true that in your example, the 得 can be omitted without loss of meaning, but it is used to improve the rhythm of the sentence, as the emphasis is on the "懂得".

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I didn't realized it was used in that meaning. Thank you very much. –  rabbid Nov 15 '13 at 7:39
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Yes, you are right, “懂得” is a phrase which means “ understand”. And “得” usually is a structural particle , it is usually used in :“verb + 得+ adjective” structure, which expresses the comment or result of the verb, like: 跑得快 “快” is the comment of “跑”.

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