I have asked through the app Hello Talk the meaning of the word 대 in this picture and I got a very kind girl (Eunyoung 은영) who told me it is probably a 의존명사 which I later found to be called "dependent noun" but didn't find this to be a concept in other languages other than Korean language. If someone could explain their thoughts on this subject I would be very thankful in English or Korean. What is a dependent noun? And Is 대 a dependent noun? How would you translate 대 to English?

의존명사인 '대'


Dependent noun(의존명사)

Nouns that cannot exist by its own, but has to follow some specific grammatical rule.

Example: 지(Noun of uncertainty) can only be used with modifiers(i.e. describing this noun with a verb or adjective).

상황이 어떤지에 따라 달라질 수 있어. (상황이 어떻다 + 지[dependent noun] + 에 따라 달라질 수 있다)

(Things could be different depending on how the situation is.)

그가 숙제를 한 지 몰랐는데.

(I don't know IF he has finished homework.)

Example: 수(ability) is only used for ㄹ/을 수 있다/없다.

대 is sometimes a dependent noun as it is also a counter(수사). It has to follow the rule (noun+number+counter) or (number+counter+noun). A number has to be before a counter.

차 4대 -> 4 cars(대 is the counter for cars)

4대 -> 4 generations

But 대 in your example 4대 위협 is not a dependent noun at all. It is the hanja of 大, meaning big.

  • 1
    @Catomic Yeah, you are right. I have edited the post. I wonder why KBS don't post the hanja form. Maybe very few will be confused. Jan 17 '17 at 4:40
  • @Catomic However 차 4대 actually has a hanja form, 車 4台/檯. Jan 17 '17 at 4:47
  • I stand corrected.
    – Catomic
    Jan 17 '17 at 5:42
  • @SuperCoolHandsomeGelBoy Please give an example or two of 대 used as a dependent noun, and its meaning. I feel this is something novel and rare and would love to learn about it. Thanks.
    – B. Alvn
    Jan 18 '17 at 1:57
  • 지 as noun of uncertainty is not a dependent noun but a connective ending "-ㄴ지". A dependent noun 지 means some period from a past day to now. You can compare two on this page Feb 28 '20 at 9:32

To my knowledge, 대 is not a dependent (aka: bound) noun. 대로, 데, 때, and 때문 are though.

Anyways, such a noun cannot be used alone, it must be preceded by a word that describes it such as an adnominal (formed from a verb root with (으)ㄹ, 는, (으)ㄴ, (었)던, etc.), a prenoun (such as 그, 이, 저, etc), among other possibilities.

  • What about 때가 되면? 때는 1900년이다. 때 is not preceded by anything. Your definition of dependent noun seems not accurate. Jan 20 '17 at 2:00
  • 때 is not always a dependent noun...a few words can be either. The word "dependent" means "requiring someone or something for financial, emotional, or other support. " ....and this is precisely what that term means in grammar, it requires something.... Look it up if you don't believe me, SuperCool. And please note my question to you above, if have a moment. thanks
    – B. Alvn
    Jan 20 '17 at 3:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.