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有什么事是我该做的吗?
Is there anything I should do?

I realize this is a strange sentence, per the discussion in this question about the same sentence. However I want some clarifications about the existing sentence:

1) Per AllSet Learning, 是 should connect two nouns. Here it connects "什么事 / anything" to "我该做的 / 'I should do' descriptor". Is it correct that descriptor clauses with 的 are nouns?

2) Is 什么事 a single term that corresponds to "something/anything"? What's the difference if I drop the 事?

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Is it correct that descriptor clauses with 的 are nouns?

I think the answer is yes. E.g. we say 这是“我应该做的”,这是“我想要的”,“我知道的”就这么多,"你不要的"就给我,etc.

Is 什么事 a single term that corresponds to "something/anything"?

No, it's not the single term for "something/anything". "something/anything" can be 某事/任何事. It could also be interpreted with other words. It relies on context.

What's the difference if I drop the 事?

什么事 is specific, while 什么 is general and it could stand for 什么事,什么东西,etc. However, 事 can be omitted when the context is clear what specific thing you are referring to.

Going a bit beyond your questions, 有什么事是我该做的吗? is made to be verbose on purpose. The underlying lines behind it is: I don't see anything I should do/be responsible for here. Can you (really) identify anything for me to do? or I doubt if you could identify anything for me to do.

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In short, the second noun "事" is omitted. The complete sentence should be like this:

有什么事是我该做的(事)吗?

For more, in Chinese, the attributive clause goes before.

The proper way to translate "Is there anything I should do?" is "有什么我该做的事吗?

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The full meaning of the sentence is 有什么事是我该做的(事)吗? with the second 事 omitted

“的” in ”有什么事是我该做的吗?” is an adjective marker that turns "我该做" into an adjectival phrase "我该做的" for the omitted “事”

It is very common to omit the subject or object in Chinese if it is clearly implied.

什麼事 literally means “what thing” and “thing” is the object

"是我應該做的" is an adjectival phrase that describes 事。

"事" in "是我應該做的(事)" cannot be omitted because it is the object that makes the sentence complete.

The second "事" in "什麼事是我應該做的(事)" is omitted because we only need one object in the same sentence

'事' in '什麼事' and '是我應該做的事' are the same object, therefore one of them can be omitted when the two phrases join together to become one sentence.

什麼事是我應該做的 = 什麼是我應該做的事

什麼(事)是我應該做的(事) would be considered wordy

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This might be a bit pedantic but I disagree with the answers above regarding whether the second noun "事" is omitted.

这是我该做的。 = This is what I should do.

这是我该做的事。 = This is something I should do.

The former uses a free relative clause, whereas the latter has a bound relative clause. I wouldn't consider them identical grammatically.

  • This is my confusion. If the second noun is implicitly there, then the "...的" clause by itself isn't a noun (it would be an adjective). If the second noun is not implicitly there as you say, would you agree that the clause by itself is a noun? – rorty Dec 9 '19 at 19:36
  • I see the confusion. Though I'm inclined to, I can't say for sure that it is nominal. However it's worth pointing out that 是 can actually link noun with adjective as well. See chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/21853/… – xiaomy Dec 9 '19 at 21:04

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