442 - けれど(も)〈but〉

You may remember this lesson from a while back: [NDL #371] - JLPT N5: が (but).

In that lesson, we saw how が can serve as a conjunction meaning "but," "although," etc.

After reading it, maybe some of you poor fools out there thought you were finished with contrasting conjunctions.

Like many (most?) languages, though, Japanese has a ton of slightly differing ways to say the same thing. So in this lesson we're looking at some other ways to say "but."


JLPT N4: けれど(も)〈but

けれども means something like "but" or "although."

Here it is in action:

私が住んでいるマンションは広いんですけれども、駅から遠いんですよ。
わたし が すんでいる マンション は ひろい んです けれども、 えき から とおい んです よ。
The apartment I’m living in is spacious, but it’s far from the station.
Literally: “I + が + am living (in) + apartment (lit. mansion) + は + spacious + んです + けれども, + station + から (=from) + far + んです + よ.”




On a side note, see this (very short) lesson for the difference between an アパート and a マンション.

That lesson also contains one of the most embarrassing mistakes I've made in an NDL.

In a momentous slip of brain usage, I suddenly started thinking that しまう (to complete; to put away) was the same as 閉まる (しまる // to close). A barrage of know-it-all great students were quick to correct me.

If you subscribe to NDL Premium, you can see that I fix mistakes like this when we upload lessons (with audio) to our course website.

Also, now that we have a team of proofreaders checking these lessons before they go out, I'm rarely allowed to embarrass myself so much. *_*


All of these mean something very similar:

X けれども Y.
X けれど Y.
X けど Y.
X Y.
X, but Y.

But what's the difference between them all?!

First, note that が is used less often as a conjunction meaning "but" in spoken Japanese. It's still OK, just not as common as these other ones.

As for the other three, けれども/けれど/けど, the shorter the conjunction, the less formal it is.

Since I tend to be around casual Japanese in my daily life, most of the people around me use けど pretty much all the time. However, when I listen to Japanese podcast interviews, for example, I hear interviewees using けれど(も) quite a bit.

(For you high-level students out there, my favorite podcast by Japanese, for Japanese, in Japanese is Pete's Mysterious Garage. They have interviews for days. And history lessons, too.)


This is kind of a difficult example, so...

せっかく高いパソコンを買ったけれど全然使いこなせていません。
せっかく たかい パソコン を かった けれど ぜんぜん つかいこなせていません。
I spent all this money on an expensive computer, but I’m not able to use it to its full capabilities.
Literally: “especially; at great pains + expensive + PC + を + bought + けれど + not at all + have not been able to master the use of.”



Grammar stuff I have to teach: けれど means "but" here. Wow!

More fun stuff: It's so hard to translate せっかく!

Check out this dictionary entry:

せっかく
with considerable effort; at great pains

So why didn't we translate our sentence like this:

せっかく高いパソコンを買ったけれど全然使いこなせていません。
せっかく たかい パソコン を かった けれど ぜんぜん つかいこなせていません。
I went to great pains to buy an expensive computer, but I’m not able to use it to its full capabilities.
Literally: “especially; at great pains + expensive + PC + を + bought + けれど + not at all + have not mastered the use of.”

Well, that makes it sound like the speaker had trouble affording the computer, don't you think? But that's not the nuance of せっかく.

How about this, then:

せっかく高いパソコンを買ったけれど全然使いこなせていません。
せっかく たかい パソコン を かった けれど ぜんぜん つかいこなせていません。
I went to all of the trouble of buying an expensive computer, but I’m not able to use it to its full capabilities.
Literally: “especially; at great pains + expensive + PC + を + bought + けれど + not at all + have not mastered the use of.”

We have a similar problem here: Maybe the speaker did not have a hard time buying this PC. Rather, they are using せっかく simply to emphasize that although this computer was expensive, they're not using it as they should be. In my opinion, a more simplified translation loses this nuance:

せっかく高いパソコンを買ったけれど全然使いこなせていません。
せっかく たかい パソコン を かった けれど ぜんぜん つかいこなせていません。
I bought an expensive computer, but I’m not able to use it to its full capabilities.
Literally: “especially; at great pains + expensive + PC + を + bought + けれど + not at all + have not mastered the use of.”

So how can we emphasize the speaker's somewhat displeased (or guilty?) feelings without changing the meaning of the sentence? This was what I came up with, but maybe you can do better:

せっかく高いパソコンを買ったけれど全然使いこなせていません。
せっかく たかい パソコン を かった けれど ぜんぜん つかいこなせていません。
I spent all this money on an expensive computer, but I’m not able to use it to its full capabilities.
Literally: “especially; at great pains + expensive + PC + を + bought + けれど + not at all + have not mastered the use of.”

Since we're already spending way too much time on this single example, let's also talk about the verb 使いこなす:

使いこなす
つかいこなす
to handle; to master (a tool); to manage; to acquire a command of (a language)

In the sentence above, we saw this verb in the potential form:

使いこなせる
つかいこなせる
to be able to handle; to be able to master (a tool); to be able to manage; to be able to acquire a command of (a language)

Fancy.

Here's a cool sentence to drop on your Japanese teacher:

日本語を母国語みたいに使いこなしたいです。
にほんご を ぼこくご みたいに つかいこなしたい です。
I want to master Japanese like it's my native language.
Literally: "Japanese + を + native language + like + want to master + です."

After dropping that sentence, maybe get your teacher to help you pronounce it correctly. I know that for me personally, all of those "o" sounds are liable to be a problem: 日本語を母国語 (nihongo wo bokokugo). Yikes.


Focus, everybody.



Don't take off your grammar pants just yet. We still have two more examples.

Notice how けど is used in more casual sentences...

山中先生は普段は優しいけど、怒ると怖いよね。
やまなか せんせい は ふだん は やさしい けど、 おこる と こわい よ ね。
Yamanaka-sensei is usually friendly, but he’s scary when he gets mad, huh?
Literally: “Yamanaka-sensei + は + usual / ordinary + は + kind / gentle + けど, + gets angry + と + scary + よね.”

話題のお店のケーキを食べてみたけど、正直そんなにおいしくなかった。
わだい の おみせ の ケーキ を たべて みた けど、 しょうじき そんなに おいしくなかった。
I ate some cake from that shop everyone’s talking about, but to be honest it wasn’t all that good.
Literally: “the talk (of the town) + の + shop + の + cake + を + tried eating (=ate [and] + saw) + けど, + honestly + (not) so much + wasn’t tasty.”


That's it. You're done!

If some of the above sentences have some weird grammar or phrases that you're still having trouble with, take comfort in the fact that we will, in time, cover ALL of the grammar in this beautiful language.

We'll just take it one lesson at a time.




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