も Particles, も Problems, Part II

We just talked about も in the last lesson, but here we're actually talking about a two-kana particle: でも (also, ~ても).

Several lessons back, we saw でも being used to mean "but," yeah?

読んだ。でもわからなかった。
よんだ。 でも わからなかった。
I read it. But I didn't understand it.
Literally: "read. + but + didn't understand."



でも can also mean something like "even," though:

子供でも出来るよ。
こども でも できる よ。
Even a child can do it. // Even kids can do it.
Literally: "child + even + can do + よ."



↑ Here we see でも coming after a NOUN. When we're working with i-adjectives and VERBS, however, we'll need to conjugate them so that they end in ~ても/~でも. This involves putting them into て-form, then adding も.

安い(やすい // cheap; affordable

安くて(やすくて // cheap; affordable [and]

安くても(やすくても // even if [it is] cheap



安くても買わない。
やすくても かわない。
Even if it's cheap, I won't buy it.
Literally: "even if (it's) cheap + won't buy."



読む(よむ // to read

読んで(よんで // read [and]

読んでも(よんでも // even if [one] reads



読んでも分からない。
よんでも わからない。
Even if I read it, I won't understand it.
Literally: "even if (I) read + won't understand."


 



Since we love to take detours, look at what happens when we add the word 何回 (なんかい // how many times) to the beginning of this sentence:

何回読んでも分からない。
なんかい よんでも わからない。
No matter how many times I read it, I won't [can't] understand it.
Literally: "how many times + even if (you/I) read + won't understand."



↑ We're going to be talking more about adding ~ても/~でも to question words (e.g. 何回 [なんかい // how many times]) in the very next lesson.

 



We briefly saw the ~ても ending in our conjugation lessons, but in our conjugation drills we were looking at a more casual version, in which the も is dropped from ~ても:

買わなくてもいいですよ。
かわなくても いい です よ。
You don't have to buy it.
Literally: "even if (you) don't buy + good + です + よ."



↓ Less Formal ↓

買わなくてもいいよ。
かわなくても いい よ。
You don't have to buy it.
Literally: "even if (you) don't buy + good + よ."



↓ Less Formal ↓

買わなくいいよ。
かわなくて いい よ。
You don't have to buy it.
Literally: "even if (you) don't buy + good + よ."



So this isn't actually your first encounter with ~ても.

It won't be your last, either. We'll be using it a lot in our future lessons.

 



Now, something exciting (for a nerd like me): My favorite use of でも!

OK, maybe not exciting. Sorry.

A usage of でも (not ても, which is never a standalone particle) that I've always thoroughly enjoyed is when it translates to something like "or something" in English, which I say all the time!

For example, let's say you're walking around Shibuya with a friend. The two of you don't really have much to do. As a scholar might put it, you're "leisure-ing." Seeing a cafe, you turn to your friend and say:

コーヒーでも飲む?
コーヒー でも のむ?
Wanna get a coffee or something?
Literally: "coffee + でも + drink?"



Doesn't the Japanese sentence seem so much more simple than the English one? Ah, I love Japanese.




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