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In this sentence, I'm trying to understand the function of 的。

姐姐 给 我 买 的 衬衫.

I thought it might indicate possession, but (in my beginner understanding), that would require 的 to be between 2 nouns.

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    "姐姐给我买的衬衫" is not a sentence. – tsh Oct 15 '19 at 9:04
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See my answer to this post Why no 的 in this sentence?

的 1.(adjective suffix):

的 2.(possessive):

"的" in [姐姐给我买] [的] [衬衫] is an "adjective suffix"

"姐姐给我买的" (the one that my sister bought me) is an adjectival phrase that describes the noun "衬衫"

What shirt? The shirt that my sister bought for me

Using the adjective suffix 的 can turn a very short phrase or a long sentence into an adjectival phrase

Example:

失敗 (fail)--> 失敗的人 (failed person/ the person who failed )

沒有工作,整天玩電腦遊戲 (have no job and play computer games all day) --> 沒有工作,整天玩電腦遊戲的人 (the person who has no job and plays computer games all day)

  • I will now study adjective suffixes. Much appreciated. – Mark Seattle Oct 11 '19 at 13:26
  • Please mark this answer as solution if you think this is the answer you are looking for – Wilson Sim Oct 12 '19 at 14:45
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Much more interesting is why we think big sis bought the shirt!

我买了一件衬衫。
我买的衬衫
这是我买的衬衫。

给 works like 把 or 将:it tells us: 我 did not buy.

姐姐给我买的衬衫太好了!

The shirt (which) my sister bought me is great!
The shirt (which) my sister bought for me is great!

adjective: 姐姐给我买的 = (which) my sister bought me

sentence: 衬衫太好了! = The shirt is great!

姐姐买给我的衬衫太好了!
The shirt my sister bought me is great!
The shirt my sister bought for me is great!

The Genitive, i.e. the possessive, is always an adjective. 'my' is an adjective.

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