686 - ~てもかまわない (all right to)

JLPT N4: ~てもかまわない (all right to; OK if)

~てもかまわない is used when you want to say that something is all right to do.

Like this:


A:
このパンフレット、持ち帰っもかまいませんか。
この パンフレット、 もちかえってもかまいません か。
Would it be all right to take this pamphlet home?
Literally: “this + pamphlet, + even if (I) take (it) home + no problem / doesn’t matter + か.”


B:
ええ、どうぞ、持ち帰ってください。
ええ、 どうぞ、 もちかえって ください。
Sure. Please, take it home with you.
Literally: “yeah, + go ahead, + take (it) home (and) + please.”



It's true.

We just saw something very similar in this lesson: [NDL #679] - JLPT N4: ~てもいい (permission).

So what's the difference between ~てもいい and ~てもかまわない?

Well, I was tempted to say that they're identical, but my grammar books seemed to be of the opinion that ~てもかまわない sounds a bit more reserved than ~てもいい.

In other words, it's closer to "would be all right to" than it is to "is OK to."

At first, I wasn't a big fan of this explanation, because you do indeed hear かまわない being used in informal language. What I didn't consider is that this "informal language" is not really the type that you hear in everyday Japanese. It's more so the type of thing you'd hear in an anime. But I'll get to that later.

For now, just know that you are pretty safe using かまわない and かまいません in polite Japanese. Thus, we're using polite Japanese for most of our examples in this lesson.


First, here's another polite example:

You're at a restaurant, and you're feeling like a smoke, so you ask...


A:
ここでタバコを吸っもかまいませんか。
ここ で タバコ を すってもかまいません か。
Would it be all right if I smoked here?
Literally: “here + で + tobacco / cigarettes + を + even if (I) smoke + no problem / doesn’t matter + か.”


But you're not in Japan anymore, Toto, and the people of this new country are committed to making you feel like a terrible person for being a smoker. (Also, they speak Japanese, which doesn't make any sense...)


B:
すみませんが、全席禁煙になっています。
すみません が、 ぜんせき きんえん に なっています。
I’m sorry, but all of the seats are non-smoking.
Literally: “excuse me / sorry, + が (=but), + all seats + no smoking / smoking prohibited + に + are becoming.”


👷 Construction 👷

V かまわない[かまいません]
= all right to VERB


Hey, what does かまわない mean, anyway?

It means something like "no problem" or "doesn't matter."

You'll sometimes see it written with kanji: 構わない.

You can also use it in isolation. That is, it doesn't have to be preceded by ~ても. We'll see an example of this at the end of the lesson.


You've just set up your tripod to take some sweet photos in a church, when suddenly you get told...


教会の中は撮影禁止です。絵は描いもかまいません
きょうかい の なか は さつえい きんし です。 え は かいてもかまいません。
Photography is not permitted inside of the church. Drawing pictures, however, is allowed.
Literally: “church + の + inside + は + photography + not allowed / prohibited + です. + picture + は + even if (you) draw + no problem / doesn’t matter.”

...like me, though, you suck at drawing. So the fact that you can draw pictures is pretty much useless.


Just like we saw in the ~てもいい lesson, it's not common practice to respond to a ~てもかまわない question with "yeah, かまわない."

Instead, we say things like「ええ、どうぞ」、「ええ、大丈夫です」、or「すみませんが、(it's not allowed)」.

Here's yet another example of that:

A:
エアコンの温度を下げもかまわないでしょうか。
エアコン の おんど を さげてもかまわまい でしょう か。
Would it be all right if I turned the AC lower?
Literally: “air conditioner + の + temperature + を + even if (I) lower + no problem / doesn’t matter + でしょう + か?”
Note: I wanted to say "turned the AC down," but then I was wondering if it might be "turned up" for an AC. This always confuses me.


B:
ええ、大丈夫ですよ。
ええ、 だいじょうぶ です よ。
Sure. That’s OK.
Literally: “yeah, + OK + です + よ.”


Another similarity with ~てもいい is that you should avoid saying ~てもかまわない to refer to the allowed actions of your "social superiors" (e.g. teachers, senior members of a company, etc.).

So let's not say this:


△ 先輩、わたしのパソコンを使っもかまいません
△ せんぱい、 わたし の パソコン を つかってもかまいません。
△ Senpai, it’s all right if you use my computer.
△ Literally: “senpai + I + の + PC + を + even if (you) use + no problem / doesn’t matter.”

Instead, let's say:


〇 先輩、わたしのパソコンを使ってください。
〇 せんぱい、 わたし の パソコン を つかって ください。
〇 Senpai, please use my computer.
〇 Literally: “senpai, + I + の + PC + を + use (and) + please.”


Casual Cats

...will sometimes say 構わん (かまわん), which is just an informal way of saying 構わない.

You'll hear this a lot in anime and whatnot:


構わ―ん!!オレが許す!!!
かまわーん!! オレ が ゆるす!!
It's OK!! I'll allow it!!!
Literally: “no problem / doesn't mater!! + I (masculine, informal) + が + allow / forgive!!!”




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