1. I understand the from the structure:

    Adj + 的

    Example: 高的。

    as attaching the Adj to an omitted Noun. This omitted Noun can either be a general noun such as "one/s" (高的 can mean the tall one) or an implied Noun from the context (if the topic is a boy, 高的 could mean a tall boy).

  2. I have come across the following structure for reduplication of adjectives:

    Noun + Adj + Adj + 的.

    For example:


    His son is tall.

Question: Because Adj + Adj + 的 is attached to an omitted noun, it becomes a nominal phrase and grammatically Noun + Adj + Adj + 的 is equal to Noun + Nominal Phrase. Where is the verb and predicate in this sentence? Is the verb copula 是 omitted but implied in connecting the nouns:Noun +(是)+ Adj + Adj + 的?From the example: 他的儿子(是)高高的?

Edit: My original post addressed the question focusing on the function of 的. However, the question of why 的 was necessary in reduplication of adjectives, instead of (Adv of degree) + Adj + Adj, was already asked in Adverbs of degree with reduplicated adjective phrases?


5 Answers 5



blackgreen's answer reminded me that the noun in “Noun + Adj + Adj + 的” is not the subject of a [SVO] sentence but the topic of a [topic + comment] sentence.

There are two ways to interpret which is the topic in 他脸红红的

  1. [他(的)脸 (topic)] [红红的 (comment)] = [his face (topic)] [is very red (comment)]

  2. [他 (topic)] [脸红红的 (comment)] = [he (topic)] [is red-faced (comment)]

Either way, 的 is acting as an adjective marker that marks 红红 as an adjective. and the 是 (is) between the topic and the comment is omitted

As for the rest of the explanation, I cannot explain it better than blackgreen did, so I am not going to try.

Different example:

[關羽的脸 (topic)][(是)红红的 (comment)] = [Guan Yu's face (topic)][(is) very red (comment)]

[關羽 (topic)][脸红红的 (comment)] = [Guan Yu (topic)][(is) red-faced (comment)]

Example of using 红红的 in SVO sentences:

[關羽][有] [一張红红的脸] [Guan Yu (S)] [has (V)] [a very red face (O)]

  • You provided an interesting explanation to this topic here
    – blackgreen
    Jul 9, 2020 at 16:59

If you want understand the Chinese grammar for this use of 的, then this dictionary definition would help:

  1. 用在作定语的词或短语后面。


我的书 / 镀金的首饰 / 幸福的童年。

(2)表示对中心语加以描写(it's used to describe the main(central) word, usually a noun/pronoun.)

蓝蓝的天 / 愁眉苦脸的样子

In practice, adj+adj+的 structure is widely used, so you can take it as a fixed structure. The structure is a vivid/cutie/lively/etc way to express "quite adj." E. g. 他的个子高高的 means 他的个子很高,but the former sounds cutie and the latter is just normal or plain.

And the structure has nothing to do with 是... 的.. structure.

他的脸红红的 vs 他的脸是红红的,there's a bit of difference between the two. With 是, the sentence becomes more factual. 他的脸红红的 is more descriptive.

  • 1
    @Puco4 I tried, but it's not a word for word. Hope you can get a gist of it.
    – dan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 10:41
  • 1
    @dan interesting explanation about factual vs. descriptive, +1'ed
    – blackgreen
    Jul 9, 2020 at 11:20

Why is there a 的 in reduplication of adjectives following structure 3?

The sentence follows the topic-comment structure. We can show the boundaries of topic and comment as follows:

你的脸 / 红红的。

红红 in practice is still one adjective, even if the character is doubled. The 的 after 红红 simply works as an adjective marker, signaling that preceding phrase has an attributive function, regardless of the duplication.

Structure 3 would connect two nouns (precisely, the same noun) without using 是 (structure 1). Is this 是 implied?

It is not implied, but it is also another way to express the same sentence:


We could also have 是 if the meaning of the sentence is to put emphasis on the adjective, according to the 是~的 structure:


B: 不红啊

A: 你脸是红红的 (emphasis)

On the other hand, if there was no 的 in structure 3, we would have Noun + Adj + Adj, which is the common simple "noun + adjective" sentences with two adjectives

I believe you are mistaken here. As I said, 红红 is still one attributive phrase. The "Noun + Adj." construction that you quote relates to predicative adjectives that need an intensifier like 很. Doubled adjectives instead don't use intensifiers, that semantics is already conveyed by the doubling. Because of this, double adjectives can't be expressed in this form:


  • "Technically it needs a comma, but this is often omitted in writing: 你的脸,红红的。 " Sorry, but I don't think 你的脸红红的 omitted a comma there. 你的脸,红红的 standing alone looks so wrong to me. The comma shouldn't be there. Do you have any authoritive documents to support your statement?
    – dan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 13:43
  • 3
    I found this in Charles Li - Mandarin Chinese. A functional reference grammar: a topic can be separated from the rest of the sentence (called the comment) by a pause or by one of the pause particles - a (or its phonetic variant ya), me, ne or ba - although the use of the pause or the pause particle is optional. [...] [Pause particles], however, including the simple pause, are not necessary. A cursory survey of Mandarin speech suggests that they are not commonly used at all. There also dialect variations in terms of the acceptability of some of the topic markers given in sentence.
    – Puco4
    Jul 9, 2020 at 14:01
  • 1
    @Puco4 Yeah, it's ok to put 他的脸呢...红红的. "..." stands for the thinking process. The pause is used when the speaker is thinking of a way to describe it/comment it. The simple pause in the article, in my opinion, is usually "…" or "……", not a comma because a comma isn't long enough to convey this thinking process'. This might a writing style thing.
    – dan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 18:48
  • @Puco4 Adding 是 would change the meaning a bit. I have addressed that in my answer. You can take out 你的 if that could help you understand. [脸]红红的.
    – dan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 19:15
  • 1
    It is probably also ok to put 她的脸呢,红红的。 她的脸吧,红红的。 她的脸么,红红的。It looks like with 呢,吧 or 么,the comma is valid. It might be okay to put 他的脸,红红的 or 他的脸…红红的 depending on what the writer think the pause should be according to the context. This probably makes more sense when it's used in a quote e. g. 他回忆道: "她的脸么,红红的". Standing alone 她的脸,红红的 without context, as I saw it first, doesn't looks quite right. I hope I wouldn't have added a confusion here. Sorry about that!
    – dan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 19:17

Really strange that as a Chinese I found this grammer never met before. Please forget your "nonce + adj + adj" form. This is just an eliptical sentence.

To make this simple, you should know a basic sentence structure:

主语(subject) + 谓语(predicate) + 宾语 (object)


  • 他的儿子高高的: 他的儿子(主) + (省略了 这个谓语) + 高高的 (宾语)
  • equivalent Chinese: His son is very tall.


  • 小猫白白的: 小猫(主) + (省略了 这个谓语) + 白白的 (宾语)
  • equivalent English: The cat is white.
  • @dan why do you believe this answer is wrong? If you want to provide an alternative explanation for where is the verb in this structure? (Maybe you could keep your old answer in an edit, I think it is useful)
    – Puco4
    Jul 12, 2020 at 9:06

你的 is an adjective.

你的脸 = your face
红红的 = very red


My advice: don't take the blatherings of Aunty Wiki too seriously!

In Chinese, possession is marked with the particle 的 (de), placed after the "owner" noun or noun phrase.


的 does not equate to 's. The genitive is always an adjective.

  • 1
    In my opinion, 你的 is not an adjective, but a Noun 1 + 的 (+ Noun 2) expressing possession.
    – Puco4
    Jul 9, 2020 at 8:02

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