아들 자(子) – Korean Hanja #24

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With Explanation

We will learn the character, 아들 자, today. Its basic meaning is son, but it has many other meanings, too. We will see them one by one.

아들

The basic meaning of 아들 자 is a son of a person or an animal.

부자(父子) means father and son. 부 here means father. Some of you might have thought the homonym, 부자 meaning rich man. It uses different characters, 부할 부(富) meaning rich and 사람 자(者).
모자(母子) means mother and son. 모 here means mother. Some of you might wonder how father and daughter or mother and daughter is called. They are 부녀(父女) and 모녀(母女) each. 녀 here means woman.
자녀(子女) means children of a couple or sons and daughters of a couple.

모자가 생각하는 것이 많이 비슷하네요.
What mother and son think are really similar.

자녀를 총 몇이나 둘 생각이세요?
How many kids are you planning to have?

사람

It is not used much these days, but the word, man, was used to call people. It is similar in Hanja and 아들 자 is sometimes used to call just human.

The famous examples for this usage are 남자(男子) and 여자(女子) meaning man and woman each.
Another example is 자손(子孫) meaning descendants. 손 here means grandchild.

남자와 여자는 비슷한 것 같으면서도 참 많이 다르다.
Man and woman are somewhat similar, but they are different in many ways.

자손들에게 더 좋은 세상을 물려주기 위해 노력해야 한다.
We should try our best to leave better world to our descendants.

Nominalization

In all languages, there are some kind of words for grammatical rules. In English, there are prepositions. In Korean and Japanese, there are endings and markers. In Chinese Characters, there are some characters that do this job. These grammar characters are called 어조사 in Korean. Sometimes, 아들 자 is used in this style and it makes nouns. Let's see some examples of these nouns.

상자(箱子) is a box and 상 means box.
탁자(卓子) is a table and 탁 means high.
과자(菓子) is a cookie and 과 means cookie.
의자(椅子) is a chair and 의 means chair.
주전자(酒煎子) is a kettle and 주 means alcohol beverage and 전 means
이자(利子) is interest in banking services and 이 means profit.
사자(獅子) is lion and 사 means lion.

As you can see, most words make sense even though there is no 자 behind it. However, those characters are not used alone and 자 makes them nouns.

탁자 위에 있던 상자를 열어 보니, 주전자와 과자가 나왔다.
When I opened the box on the table, there were a kettle and some cookies.

의자 아래 새끼 사자 한 마리가 자고 있다.
A baby lion is sleeping under the chair.

Old scholars

아들 자 is used for the name of some ancient Chinese scholars. There are names like 공자(孔子, Confucius), 맹자(孟子, Mencius), 노자(老子, Laozi), etc.

It is used like this, because 아들 자 once had meaning of teacher, but this meaning is dead now.