General discussion of the particle 的
According to Charles N. Li, Sandra A. Thompson - Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar, the particle 的 is the nominalization particle, which allows that a verb, a verb phrase or a sentence to function as a noun phrase. The nominalization is characterized by:
Must contain a verb with at least one of its participants unspecified (e.g., subject, direct object, indirect object, etc.).
If there is only one participant unspecified, the nominalization refers to this participant. For example:
He does not have what I like.
Here, 我喜欢的 is nominalized: because the subject 我 is specified, the verb 喜欢 (to like) is transitive and its object is unspecified, the nominalization makes reference to the direct object to mean what I like.
It is difficult for fruit growers to make a living.
Here, 种水果的 is nominalized: because the verb 种 (to grow) has the object 水果 (fruit) specified, but its subject unspecified, the nominalization makes reference to the subject to mean fruit growers.
If both the subject and the direct object participants are unspecified, the nominalization will generally be understood to refer to the unspecified direct object of that verb. For example:
Moreover, a nominalization can also function to modify a following noun and to formulate the 是...的 construction, which for example emphasizes details in the past or allows non-gradable adjectives to appear on the predicate.
You will understand it one day.
Here, 一天你会明白的 is nominalized: because the subject 你 is specified, 明白 is a transitive verb and the object is unspecified, the nominalization makes reference to the direct object to mean what one day you will understand.