Is there anything special I need to do to use nouns as adjectives in Chinese? As far as I can tell, such grammatical constructions are identical to English without any need for particles like 的.

For example:
通知 + 選項 ≟ 通知選項 (Notification + Options = Notification Options)
專輯 + 列表 ≟ 專輯列表 (Album + List = Album List)

There doesn't appear to be any information on the Web describing this, perhaps because it's seemingly straightfoward.

2 Answers 2


It is correct. The rule of using adjectival noun in Chinese is the same as in English. You can take any standard noun and use it as an adjectival noun to modify a main noun as long as it make sense.

For example:

交通 (traffic) + 意外 (accident) = 交通意外 (traffic accident) You don't need to use particles like 的 to link the two nouns

  • 交通意外(traffic accident) is a single noun * with 交通 as the adjectival noun and 意外 as the main noun

  • 交通的意外 (traffic's accident) is a phrase


Many Chinese nouns are made up of two noun characters that combined into one stand-alone word.


車 (Car) + 禍 (disaster) = 車禍 (car accident)

Since 車禍 (car accident) is a noun on its own, you cannot break them up and treat them as two individual nouns and write 車的禍 (cars' disaster)


This kind of construction is very common in English, like chairman, ice-cream, horseshoe, fairy tales, bus stop, and so on. Pretty intuitive. It is a kind of compound noun as in English. In Chinese, it is free to construct new words in this way.

There are some more examples.

中華人民共和國 = 中華 / 人民 / 共和國 (Three nouns)

香港鐵路博物館 = 香港 / 鐵路 / 博物館 (Three nouns)

全國人民代表大會 = 全國 /人民 / 代表 / 大會 (Four nouns)

The reason behind your question on "nouns as adjectives" is just because you try to fit English grammar in Chinese languages. This is not necessary. When a pupil studies English in school, teachers teach much stuff on the part of speech and its morphology, and the way to judge a sentence is grammatically correct. Morphology is unimportant in Chinese languages. If you pick some Chinese dictionaries, the part of speech is not always mentioned. Chinese feels natural to word meaning and order, conversation and passage context.

In Chinese tradition, it is advised to write as few words as possible. 的 is mostly optional but it sometimes enhances rhyme and rhythm, and acts as a pause in speech ,and functions as a word boundary in sentence. Some writers immersing too much in Western morphology might overuse it.

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