Naver defines 대명사 as

사람이나 사물의 이름을 대신 나타내는 말.

What role does 대신 play in the above sentence? According to the dictionary it is always a noun. I need your help to understand the sentence structure.


3 Answers 3


Topo morto's example shows the basic form:

그 대신 제가 가겠습니다. (I will go instead of [as a substitute for] him.)


  1. 대신 is, or works like, an adverb (as other answers have said).
  2. 대신 takes an object, i.e. 그. ("Object" may not be a term of formal grammar.)

On item 1, consider:

  • The time we were in Spain, I didn't know you that well.
  • The work of his life done, he retired.

They can become

  • At the time we were in Spain, . . .
  • With the work of his life done, . . .

Similarly we can fill things in:

대신하여 제가 가겠습니다.

Note: I am not suggesting that the three examples have the same grammatical analysis. Just illustrating how what looks like a noun can work like something else, to make the idea more palatable.

On item 2, if you have a transitive verb in place of 가겠습니다, you may get something like:

그를 대신하여 제가 일을 하겠습니다. (Instead of him, I will do the work.)

As for your phrase:

사람이나 사물의 이름을 대신 나타내는 말

Converting it to:

대명사는 사람이나 사물의 이름을 대신(하여) 나타낸다.

you can see that it is ambiguous.

One possibility is that 나타낸다 has an object, but 대신하여 does not. I.e., the sentence means:

A pronoun, as a substitute (of what?), represents the name of a person or thing.

The second possibility is the opposite. 대신하여 has an object. 나타낸다 does not.

A pronoun, as a substitute of the name of a person or thing, represents (what?).

The full sentence may go:

대명사는 사람이나 사물의 이름을 대신(하여) 그 사람이나 사물을 나타낸다.
(A pronoun, as a substitute for the name of a person or thing, represents that person or thing.)

The original, ambiguous phrase is somewhat sloppy. That may have given you trouble in addition to 대신, supposedly a noun, working like something else.

You may also dispute the idea that a pronoun acts as a substitute for any name. If you say:

I met a blind beggar, and he said I should be king.

You don't care what his name was, and he is not a substitute for any name. But this is not a Korean language question.


연상 부사 is a conjuctive adverb. It's poses as an adverb but acts to combine two phrases/words.

I should point out, you can supplant the word 'instead' in most cases including this one.

I learned the idiom 꿩대신닭 which means to expect something good but not get it. 'chicken instead of quail'.

  • Could you please elaborate more by providing some examples and references? Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 19:13
  • I've had 꿩대신닭 my whole life, I think! Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:24

As naver dictionary says, it can be a 명사 (noun), in which case it means something like a 'stand-in' or 'substitute'. More commonly, it's a 부사 (adverb) meaning 'instead', 'instead of', 'in the place of':

대신 홍차를 주세요 - Give me tea instead.

그 대신 제가 가겠습니다 - I will go in his place.

Having said that, your definition for '대명사' (pronoun) is slightly difficult to translate word for word in English without introducing a tautology, because 나타내는 has a similar meaning of 'representing' or 'representative'. Perhaps you could say "A representative word used instead of the name of a person or thing".

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