I was reading 雪女

Can anyone please explain me the difference between 白い女 and 色の白い女. Especially the usage of 色の and why, 色の precedes 白い. Also, shouldn't be more like 白い coming before 色, as in 白い色の女 (Women with white colour, or literally women with colour (that is white)). As, 色の白い女 sounds more like white women of colour, or colour white women.



This の is not "of" but a subject marker usable in a relative clause. 色の白い女 is the same as 色が白い女, and they literally mean "a woman whose color is white". If you know how to parse 心の美しい人, 背の高い男, 尻尾が長い猫 and so on, it's exactly the same structure. (Please see this if you are unsure.)

So something like 色の青い車 is grammatical, but we usually don't say this because it's obviously redundant and 青い車 is enough. However, 色が白い is an exception. This is almost a set phrase that automatically refers to skin colors without explicitly saying 肌. We also have a no-/na-adjective version of this, 色白. Likewise, 色が黒い and 色黒 mean "dark-skinned" without explicitly saying 肌. 肌の白い人 and 色の白い人 roughly mean the same thing, but the former sounds a little too direct, and the latter is usually preferred.

Also note that 白い女 usually makes little sense even outside the story of 雪女; if you mean "white woman" in the sense of Caucasian, you should say 白人の女 or 白人女性.

  • Thank you @Naruto-san for the detailed answer
    – APK
    Dec 7 '20 at 19:17
  • -san This is just for my curiosity, is this method used to avoid the confusion between subject and noun phrase?, or was there some other purpose for this?
    – APK
    Dec 12 '20 at 9:26
  • @APK What do you mean by "this method"?
    – naruto
    Dec 12 '20 at 10:02
  • I mean "色が白い女" being replaced by 色の白い
    – APK
    Dec 12 '20 at 10:09

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