647 - ~てこそ

JLPT N2: ~てこそ (it's only when/by...)

You may already know that こそ is used to emphasize the importance of something in relation to other factors. This is an N3 grammar point which, unfortunately, we haven't had a lesson on yet. We did see a few examples of this grammar point back in this lesson, though: [NDL #135] - Blood Types.

And we saw the following sentence in [NDL #374] - JLPT N2: てみせる


去年は失敗したけど、今年こそは7月中に夏休みの宿題を終わらせてみせる。
きょねん は しっぱい した けど、 ことし こそ は しちがつ ちゅう に なつやすみ の しゅくだい を おわらせて みせる。
I messed up last year, but this year I will finish my summer homework in July.
Literally: “last year + は + fail + did + けど + this year + こそ + は + in July (=July + middle) + summer vacation + の + homework + を + finish (and) + show.”


↑ こそ is emphasizing that this is the year that I will finish my summer homework early.


In this lesson, we are looking at how putting こそ after the て-form of a VERB means something like: "it is only when/by VERB-ing that..."

This phrase is typically used with positive evaluations when stating that [blah blah blah] is only possible by experiencing [blah blah blah] (for the first time).

An example:


サグラダ・ファミリアは実物を目でこそ、そのすごさが分かる。
サグラダ・ファミリア は じつぶつ を め で みてこそ、 その すごさ が わかる。
The only way to really appreciate the beauty of Sagrada Família is to see the real thing with your own eyes.
Literally: “Sagrada Família + は + the real thing + を + eyes + で + see (and) + こそ, + that + amazing(-ness) + が + understand.”


Or how about this next one?


平和があっこそ、自由が存在する。
へいわ が あってこそ、 じゆう が そんざい する。
It is only through peace that we (can) have freedom.
Literally: “peace + が + have / there is (and) + こそ, + freedom + が + existence + does.”


👷 Construction 👷

I already mentioned this earlier, but here is the phrase's pattern:

V てこそ
it is only through/by/when VERB-ing that...

Two more examples, and you'll have finished yet another N2 lesson.



人は失敗を繰り返し、反省しこそ、成長できる。
ひと は しっぱい を くりかえし、 はんせい してこそ、 せいちょう できる。
The only way for people to grow is to make mistakes and reflect on them.
Literally: “person + は + mistake + を + repeat / do over and over (and), + reflection / reconsideration + do (and) + こそ, + growth + can do.”




辛い経験をしこそ、小さな幸せに感謝できるようになる。
つらい けいけん を してこそ、 ちいさな しあわせ に かんしゃ できる ように なる。
It is only by experiencing hardships that we become able to appreciate small joys.
Literally: “painful / hard + experience + を + do (and) + こそ, + small + happiness / joy + に + thanks / gratitude + became able to do (=can do + ように + become).”



Finished! Props to you.


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