680 - ～てもいい (concession)
JLPT N4: ～てもいい (I don't mind if; it's OK if)
We'll start with an example:
おかあさん、 これ ちょうだい。
Mom, can I have this?
Literally: “Mom, + this + please (give me).”
あげてもいい けど、 だいじ に して ね。
I’ll let you have it, but take good care of it, OK?
Literally: “give (you) (and) + も + good + but, + take good care of (=important + に + do) (and) + ね.”
By saying あげてもいいけど instead of just あげるけど, the mother sounds more reluctant to give this thing to her child.
My grammar books insist that this use of ～てもいい is for compromising or saying that something is not the optimal action.
I guess that works, but it's kind of hard for me to match up that explanation with every usage of ～てもいい that I come across. I find that it's easier to understand this usage of ～てもいい in relation to the other uses of ～ても and ～てもいい we've seen before.
We saw in the last lesson how ～てもいい can be used to say "may do (something)" or "it's OK if you do (something)."
With that in mind, it helps me to think of the mother almost speaking to herself in the above sentence, saying "It's OK if I give it to you, but..."
In other words, the VERB attaching to ～てもいい is an allowable action.
Perhaps that explanation will help with this next example, too:
いつ に なってもいい から、 かならず かえして ください。
It doesn’t matter when, but please be sure to give it back.
Literally: “when + に + even if it becomes (=become [and] + も) + good + because, + certainly / without fail + return (it) (and) + please.”
One major difference between this usage of ～てもいい and the ～てもいい meaning "may do (something)" is that this one can be used with all types of words, not just VERBS.
Here we see ～てもいい attaching to an i-adjective:
きゅうりょう は ひくくてもいい から、 たのしい しごと が したい。
I don’t care if the pay is low, I just wanna do a job that’s fun.
Literally: “salary + は + even if it’s low (=low [and] + も) + good + because, + fun + job + が + want to do.”
On another note, you'll see that a lot of our examples here have いいから in them. I had a hard time writing the literal breakdowns in this lesson because of that.
いいから is often said with the meaning of "don't worry about that," "never mind that," and so on.
For example, way back in NDL #230, we saw the sentence:
しっぱい しても いい から やって。
It's OK if you mess it up, so just do it.
Literally: “mistake + even if (you) do + good + because + do.”
...and I explained that I might say this to Rei when trying to convince her to cut my hair for the first time (something which she does regularly now).
But let's imagine that I'm trying to convince her of this, and she says:
しっぱい する かも。
I might mess up.
Literally: “mistake + do + maybe.”
I could respond with just:
いい から やって。
Just do it already.
Literally: “good + because + do.”
It had never occurred to me that this いいから might be an abbreviation of ～てもいいから, but I'm starting to think that it might be. Who knows. ^_^
Anyway, yeah, back to the lesson.
👷 Construction 👷
As mentioned above, this ～てもいい can be used with VERBS, i-adjectives, and NOUNS and na-adjectives:
V ても ＋ いい
i-adjective くても ＋ いい
NOUN / na-adjective でも ＋ いい
Note that it's でも and not ても after NOUNS and na-adjectives.
All of these conjugation patterns should start feeling natural to you eventually. If they don't yet, just be patient. You don't have to keep all of these rules in your head forever.
へた でもいい から、 やってみて ください。
It doesn’t matter if you’re not good, please just try it.
Literally: “not skilled / poor at + even if you are (=でも) + good + because, + try (it) (=do [and] + see) (and) + please.”
めんきょしょう は もっていません。 ほけんしょう でもいい です か？
I don’t have my license on me. Can I use my insurance card?
Literally: “(driver’s) license + は + am not carrying. + insurance card + でも + good + です + か?”
This is quite common language, so you may want to read through this a few times. Instead of trying to label this ～てもいい as being used for "compromise," "concession," or whatever, I'd just look at examples and get a feel for how it's used. I seem to get less confused when I do that.