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The suffix -다(가) is normally attached to the verb stem, not the present stem (-어/아-).

But I find that in the case of 가지다 they say e.g. 가져다 놓다 (instead of 가지다 놓다), while the contracted form is regular (갖다 놓다).

Is this just an irregularity of this verb, or is there an underlying grammar concept I am not aware of?

(In this post, the accepted answer says that the suffix is -어 다가, but that seems not to be correct.)

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Both -다가 and -아/어다가 are commonly used grammar constructs with different usages and with their own dictionary entries.

  1. -다(가) = describes an unexpected thing happening in the middle of performing an intended action.
  2. -아다(가), -어다(가) = describes one action completing and a subsequent action following which makes use of the first action's results.

가지다가 놓다 is practically never said because 가지다's meaning is too abstract to talk about another thing happening during the process of it. 가지다 is similar to "have" which doesn't define an concrete action but rather a state of owning or keeping something.

가지다 only works well in the set phrases of 가지고 있다 (have on one's person), 가지고 가다 / 가져가다 (take something along), 가지고 오다/가져오다 (bring something along), and 가져다(가) 놓다 (bring and place somewhere). In all of these, how the person come by or handle the thing is not specified. It only focuses on "having", a concept not suitable for the -다가 construct.

Also, since 가져다 놓다 is a common phrase and 가지다 놓다 is seldom heard, the former is shortened to 갖다 놓다. So yes, both 가지 in 가지고 and 가져 in 가져다 contract to the same 갖, but this is nothing unusual because contraction is just a convenience thing and not a very strictly defined rule. There are many other such cases, like "I'd" in English representing both "I would" and "I had".

So 가지다 is a case where the verb contracts to -아/어다가 but not to simple -다가, and here are examples of verbs for where both -다가 and -아/어다가 can work, and those for which only -다가 works.

  1. 훔치다 (to steal). Both work because 훔치다 defines a tangible action and also produces a physical thing (the stolen item) the next verb can work on.

도둑이 차를 훔다가 붙잡혔다 = A thief was caught in the act of stealing a car. Unexpected occurrence.
도둑이 차를 훔다가 중고차 시장에 팔았다 = A thief stole a car and sold it to a used car market. Two connected actions.

  1. 먹다 (to eat). -다가 works because it is a physical action but not -아/어다가 because eating doesn't produce something concrete.

뜨거운 음식을 다가 혀를 데었다 = I burned by tongue eating hot food.
음식을 먹다가 ??? => 먹어다가 doesn't exist because it doesn't make sense.

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  • Thank you for the detailed answer! So -다(가) can connect to both the stem and the infinitive, with different meanings... now I found it in the Routledge Comprehensive Grammar, as well (the -어 version didn't have its own entry). One additional piece of information was that in the -어 usage the 가 is normally dropped.
    – vukung
    Commented Feb 27 at 17:49

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