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Almost everyday and everywhere, we heard someone praising a wife by saying: “她很体贴先生。” or "她是一个体贴先生的太太。" If it is wrong, why people kept on using it?

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    I wonder who said it's wrong. I don't think it's wrong.
    – joehua
    Oct 4 '20 at 3:18
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体贴 can be a verb or an adjective. So which one is it in 体贴先生? It feels to be a verb so it's a verb + noun phrase. But no, the missing subject makes the phrase incomplete in meaning. Why is it not interpreted as an adjective? A 的 is missing in the middle.

Yes, 的 is not necessary in some cases, e.g. 漂亮小姐 is fine because 漂亮 can't be a verb. How the word is used mostly affects how people interpret, and unusual ones will be strange to native people.

In both of your example sentences 体贴 is used as a verb.

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  • 体贴先生 is a noun, as in "他是一個体贴先生". It is adjective, if add 的 to the sentence as in "他是一個体贴的先生". 体贴 is a verb, such as in “她很体贴她的先生".
    – r13
    Mar 30 at 0:14
  • @r13 Yes 体贴先生 can be a compound noun but people just won't feel that way. "他是一個体贴先生" doesn't sound native either.
    – lilydjwg
    Mar 30 at 15:57
  • This the native speaking: "他是一個体贴的先生", 体贴的 is adjective, which describes the noun "先生". "他是一個体贴先生", 体贴先生 is compound noun here. Both can be used when introduce a friend's husband to another friend. The former is more formal/complete than the latter, but both are fine, and used frequently.
    – r13
    Mar 30 at 16:24
  • I meant 体贴先生 alone, not as part of a sentence.
    – lilydjwg
    Mar 31 at 14:50
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I don't really think it is wrong.

她很体贴先生。

Its translation should be: She cares about her husband very much.

她是一个体贴先生的太太。

Its translation should be: She is a wife who cares about her husband.

"体贴" is a verb, and it means "细心忖度别人的心情和处境,给予关切、照顾". For example, "体贴入微" "他很会体贴人". (quoted from "Modern Chinese Dictionary"). Sometimes it can be used as a adjective, like the examples in @Tang Ho 's answer.

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体贴的 is an adjective for 'considerate'. There is nothing wrong with '体贴(的)先生' with 的 omitted

BTW, 体贴 is also a verb for "show consideration for". Using a verb or noun in an adjective role is a common practice in any language

For example, The Host of 品城記 has a nickname 吃雞小王子 (Chicken eating little prince)-- 吃雞(eat chicken) is a verb; the former tennis champion Steffi Graf was nicknamed "Miss Forehand" (正手小姐) by John McEnroe -- 正手 is a noun

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  • 体贴的 is not an adjective in Chinese grammar. It's a 的 phrase that's often used to interpret adjective in English. 体贴先生, if not a name, sounds stilted. 体贴的先生 is fine.
    – dan
    Oct 3 '20 at 3:13
  • You are arguing 的 in 体贴的先生 should not be omitted, but people do omit 的 often in day-to-day conversation.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 3 '20 at 3:21
  • not always, sometimes you can, sometimes not. There's no rule about it. E. g. 坚强的人, 坚强人 is bit off. 顽强的中国人民,not 顽强中国人民.
    – dan
    Oct 3 '20 at 3:30
  • Is 体贴 limited to intimate relationship? For instance, can I say "老师对学生很体贴"?
    – starckman
    Mar 2 at 14:33
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    @starckman Yes, you can. That sentence is pretty normal. But if you say 上司对员工很体贴, it might suggest that the 上司 is expressing love to the 员工.
    – lilydjwg
    Mar 29 at 15:41
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体贴先生 standalone doesn't look right because it suggests that 体贴 is an adjective.

In the sentences  “她很体贴先生。” or "她是一个体贴先生的太太。", 体贴 is used as a verb.

 So, 体贴 can't be used as an adjective but a verb.

P. S. 体贴 looks like an adjective in 她很体贴. But体贴先生 itself looks more like a verbal phrase without a subject, which suggests an incomplete sentence.

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