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When would one be used? I don't understand the difference between them.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

事【じ】 is a matter, so 大事【だいじ】means a "serious matter".

大【たい】した places less emphasis on the "matter" and more on being "big", so can simply mean "very" or "much".

As an example

国家安全保障【こっかあんぜんほしょう】の大事【だいじ】 - a matter of national security


彼女【かのじょ】は大【たい】した歌手【かしゅ】になるはず - she will definitely become a (very big) singer

As per their negative counterparts, I find that in a colloquial sentence the following would seem a bit more formal:

大事【だいじ】ではない ー (it's not a big issue)

whereas this sounds more natural:

大【たい】したこと(では)ない ー (no biggie)

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I've seen the last one shortened to 大したことない as well. – Kaji Apr 10 '14 at 21:29
Yep, I thought about that too. I've added the parentheses around the optional では – DaniG2k Apr 10 '14 at 21:31
Thank you! (need 4) – User4516 Apr 10 '14 at 23:03

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