大した adjective type

Is 大した a na-adjective? It’s not quite clear.

No, it’s not. It doesn’t say な adjective, right?

大したこと

It goes right next to the noun it modifies.

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大した is what in English is best called “pre-noun adjectival”, or 連体詞 in Japanese.

Simply put this is an adjectival word which can only exist in front of another word. In that it can’t exist as the predicate of a sentence, or on its own as a noun. It’s a little bit of its own class separate from I-adjectives and Na-adjectives.

There aren’t too many words that belong too this class, but other words are things like この and その, then いわゆる, 或る, 大きな etc

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It’s a verb! You might be too beginner for this, but all plain (that is, informal) conjugations can directly modify a noun. So 大した物(たいした もの) means “Thing that did big,” or “considerable thing.”

した is the plain past form of する, an irregular verb meaning “to do.”

You can do similar things with any verb. Note, though, that 大した might be such a set phrase that Japanese speakers might not be aware of its underlying structure, and 大する in general probably isn’t used very often as an everyday verb (ie I don’t think you would hear something like “My cat will do big today!” 今日、私の猫は大する!)

But for more productive usage, here’s an example.

食べる (たべる) dictionary form of “to eat”
ピザ(ぴざ) pizza

食べるピザ - Pizza that I eat
食べたピザ (食べた being the plain past tense) - The pizza that I ate.

I’m not sure if calling it a verb is the most helpful thing.

It’s not that 大する “isn’t used very often.” It doesn’t exist.

As Syphus said, it’s a pre-noun adjectival. And you can modify nouns with verbs like that.

But that’s not what is literally happening with this one. It just has the same appearance.

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I just wasn’t sure if 大する did exist. I didn’t want to boldly claim it didn’t and then then turn out to be wrong on that part.

I wouldn’t say that it being a verb is “not what is literally happening” though. I’d be very surprised if する is not historically involved with this word. I think there’s some use in teaching how things came to be rather than just saying “this is what it is.”

And, for what it’s worth, Wiktionary also cites 大した as 大 + した (< する).

Yeah, but the etymology of a word is separate from its current part of speech classification.

“Came from a verb” and “verb” are different. You can’t do anything with this that is like a verb in other ways that you’d expect from verbs.

Which is what I was trying to get at with the middle block of text in my original comment. Might’ve been too ambiguous/vague, sorry.

Sure, I just wanted to clarify that this can’t be conjugated or placed at the end of a sentence, etc. Rather than just leaving that as “you might not see that happen”.

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