第324課: No Matter If: たとえ
The adverb たとえ derives from the verb 例える meaning “to compare/liken/use a metaphor.” However, the comparison that たとえ makes is not a normal one. In fact, it is used when the speaker wants to make it clear that Situation X is a horrible worst-case scenario which still does not affect Situation Y. たとえ translates as “even if” or “no matter (what).” In this lesson, we’ll learn about the various grammatical patterns it is paired with along with synonymous phrases.
Orthography Note: When written Kanji, たとえ may be seen as 仮令 or 縦令.
たとえ X + ても Y
When たとえ is used with a dependent clause marked by ても – the X either being a verb, adjective, adjectival noun, or a noun with the copula verb – the speaker has no control of X actually happening, but “even if” it happens, the speaker intends on doing Y. In other words, Situation X has no bearing on the speaker carrying out Situation Y.
|Verb||V + ても・でも||たとえ 失敗しても|
(Even if you fail)たとえ死んでも
(Even if you die)
|Adjective||Adj. + くても||たとえ苦しくても(Even if it’s tough)|
|Adj. Noun||Adj. N + でも・であっても||たとえ大変で（あっ）ても(No matter if it’s difficult/challenging)|
|Noun||N + でも・であっても||たとえ難題で（あっ）ても(Even if it’s a tough problem)|
Conjugation Note: The base utilized for connecting ～ても is still the 連用形.
I’m heading out no matter if it rains.
No matter if I’m busy with work, I am editing the website every day.
No matter how much of a pain it is, I make sure to get a health exam every 3 months.
Work that exceeds statutory working hours, strictly speaking, even if it’s just 1 minute, you are obligated to pay (the employee for that work) at the overtime rate.
Even if I were to be killed, my conviction wouldn’t be bent.
No matter if your opponent is unscathed, the crime of attempted murder still holds.
7. たとえ象が踏んでも、 この画面は割れません。
No matter if an elephant steps on it, this screen won’t break.
たとえ X + (よ)う[と(も)・が] Y
A dependent clause with たとえ may also end with a volitional form (affirmative or negative) with X being a verb, adjective, adjectival noun, or a noun followed by the copula. The change in nuance is that no matter X situation, situation Y is not changed by that. This pattern is considerably more emphatic than the previous one but also less common in the spoken language.
To use this pattern, you will need to know how to conjugate parts of speech into both the affirmative and negative volitional forms.
The Affirmative Volitional Forms
|一段 Verbs||未然形||～よう||たとえ試みようとも…(No matter if (you) attempt to…)|
|五段 Verbs||未然形||～う||たとえ死のうとも…(No matter if (you) die…)|
|サ変 Verbs||未然形||～よう||たとえ侵攻しようとも…(No matter if (they) invade…)|
|カ変 Verbs||未然形||～よう||たとえ来ようとも(No matter if it comes…)|
|Adjectives||未然形||～う||たとえ寂しかろうと…(No matter if (you) are lonely…|
|Adjectival Nouns||未然形||～う||たとえ楽観的だろうと…(No matter how optimistic (you) are…)|
|(Noun w/) Copula||未然形||～う||たとえ王様だろうと…(No matter if (you) are the king……|
Conjugation Note: だろう may also appear as であろう in a more literary tone.
The Negative Volitional Forms
|一段 Verbs|| 未然形|
|～まい||たとえ居まいが…(No matter if…isn’t there…)|
|五段 Verbs||終止形||～まい||たとえ降るまいが…(No matter if it doesn’t rain…)|
|サ変 Verbs||未然形終止形※||～まい||たとえ殺害しまいが…(No matter if…don’t murder…)|
|カ変 Verbs||未然形終止形※||～まい||たとえ来まいが…(No matter if (it) doesn’t come…)|
|Adjectives||未然形||～なかろう（ない＋う）||たとえ古かろうが…(No matter if it’s old…)|
|Adjectival Nouns||未然形||～でなかろう（でない＋う）||たとえ必要でなかろうが..(No matter if it isn’t necessary…)|
|(Noun w/) Copula||未然形||～でなかろう（でない＋う）||たとえ幻でなかろうが…(No matter if it isn’t magic…)|
※Conjugation Note: Traditionally, ～まい follows the 未然形 of every part of speech with exception to 五段 verbs, but in recent decades, ～まい is more commonly being added to the 終止形 of any verb. This results in word forms like 見るまい（→ 見まい), するまい・すまい （→しまい）, 來るまい（→來まい), etc.
Particle Note: There is no difference in meaning whether you choose が or と（も）. However, it is more natural to stick to one option when X is composed of two likened pairs. These Xi and Xii situations can still alternate between the affirmative and the negative or be the exact opposite or the exact same thing stated differently, but no matter the situations, they have no affect on Situation Y. If several pairs make up X, you may see alternation between が and と（も）but just not within said pairs.
Particle Note: The も serves to emphasize the phrase as a whole and may be omitted, although if you omit it once in a pair, you ought to admit it both times.
As it is highly common that X is composed of n-number of paired situations, don’t lose sight of how unchanging Y is. It must also be noted that Y is not limited to the speaker’s personal actions. Instead, this pattern is largely used to make stern generalizations.
No matter if they die, people will suffer once more for as long as they are reincarnated.
No matter if the tenth wave of COVID strikes, we will overcome it and will positively return to our normal lives!
No matter if nuclear power is necessary or not, they’re going to run (the plants) at any rate regardless.
I will support you no matter what it is that you do.
I’ll do it no matter what the case might be.
No matter how much I’m opposed or how people separate themselves from me, I want to push myself on until I’m satisfied.
たとえ X + たとしても Y
Even if the speaker recognizes supposition X as a possibility, that recognition has no effect on the outcome stated in Y. Consider this pattern playing the devil’s advocate. This pattern is different from the previous ones grammatically in that X must be a verb (copula verb counting as one). What’s more, it is valid to
As for what form X may take, it can either be in the affirmative or positive,. Furthermore, the use of た is not obligatory but most common because of its ability to emphasize affirmation of a situation (much like it does in phrases like よかった or ～たほうがいい).
Even if there were differences between the two parties, there would hardly be any at whatsoever.
Even if you were to only have met that guy only once, I cannot possibly forgive you for it.
No matter if there were any sort of lapse by the victim, full responsible for bullying lies with the offender.
No matter if you’re able to get into your dream school, once you enter “society,” the most important thing, after graduating, you will struggle.
No matter if the world were to end, you would only die once.
Grammar Note: It is also possible to ～としても used with the the affirmative volitional and the negative volitional. When this happens, X must be a volitional act or the subject must be personified in such a way. Consider this the grammatical hybrid between the last two grammar points.
No matter if the world were to (try to) end tomorrow, I’ll always protect you.
たとえ X に［しろ/せよ］ Y
The use of ～にしろ – also seen as ～にせよ in a more formal tone – with たとえ X indicates that regardless if X is true (which there is admission on the part of the speaker), Y is unequivocally also true. So, although X is so (as extreme as it is), Y is just as true and often meant to be an important life lesson to the listener.
The X can be a verb, adjective, adjectival noun, or a noun with the copula, but in any event, ～に[しろ・せよ] attaches to the 終止形 of non-past or past conjugations. The only oddity that must be noted is that when it is paired with adjectival nouns, the only 終止形 allowed is である. With nouns, である may actually be omitted.
|Part of Speech||How to Combine|
|Adjectival Nouns||Adj. Noun + である + に[しろ・せよ]|
|Nouns (w/ copula)||Noun (+ である） + に[しろ・せよ]|
Even if it’s just a joke, you should not say hurtful things.
No matter how much talent you may have, if you do not put in the effort, you will not become able to speak it well.
In the case that more than one X situation is stated, に[しろ・せよ] implies that any and all such circumstances don’t change Situation Y.
Whether tomorrow is extreme rain or a blizzard, I can’t take the day off from the company.
In actuality, たとえ is not obligatory with any of the dependent clause endings showcased in this lesson. This is because たとえ’s role is to very emphatically imply that the supposition being made is an extreme one at that. The infallible nature of Situation Y still holds true. So, if you see examples without たとえ, Situation X might just not be that extreme or there might be a more fitting adverb to highlight it. Another would be whether Situation X is a supposition or not. If the speaker is doing the action, then たとえ wouldn’t be appropriate as it is happening.
Even if it weren’t grammatically necessary for there to be a subject, if it is more logical to supplement a subject, then it is fine to do so.
No matter whether you’re not living alone, it’s best to at least know how to many simple things by yourself.
No matter how many times I try ending our LINE, the other person will always not let it end.
She won’t come no matter how long I wait.
No matter how much you do or don’t succeed in society, whether you take your last breath in a 200 million-yen luxury apartment or die on the side of the road, once you realize that there is actually no difference at the end of the day, you’ll live far more easily.
All being said, our next goal is to look at similarly functioning adverbs, which will in turn give us more practice with the grammar points showcased thus far.
The commonality among たとえ, いくら, どんなに, and どれだけ is that “no matter” what Situation X is, there is no change or effect had on Situation Y. It is the nature of the action or state of Situation X that determines which adverb is most natural. There are many times that either of them may be natural, but there will always be a difference in nuance.
|たとえ||Situation X is an extreme supposition. The speaker or another entity may have some level of volition over the situation, but regardless, it is a worst-case scenario that ultimately does not affect Situation Y. It’s also not certain whether Situation X will even happen or not. In actuality, it most likely won’t.|
|いくら||Situation Y doesn’t change no matter how frequent or to what degree Situation X occurs. It best translates as “no matter how much.” In the speaker’s mind, however, there is some level of supposition as to how far in degree Situation X will go.|
|どんなに||The degree to which Situation X might occur as well as the nature of the situation is up in the air, but even so, Situation Y remains unchanged. Other things might come up which could in theory change things, but in your mind, that still won’t happen.|
|どれだけ||Synonymous with どんなに多く, no matter how many alternations of Situation X that are experienced, Situation Y doesn’t change. In casual speech, it may be heard as どんだけ.|
The screen on this phone won’t crack no matter how many times you drop it.
No matter how delicious it might be, I can’t eat ramen every day.
No matter how tough it might be, I am able to live on because there are always people there to support me.
No matter how much I drink, I’ve never thrown up.
No matter how much the world changes, I can live through it!
In fact, you can actually see たとえ used with these other adverbs. When this happens, たとえ marks extremity and the following adverb describes the nature of Situation X in its own light. However, because of the overlap that exists, many speakers will find it redundant unless there is true reason to be purposefully so emphatic to the point of exaggeration.
No matter how much I wish, you can’t come back (to me).
Sentence Note: No amount or means of hoping will change the situation. By using たとえ, the speaker is also implying that it is pointless to even try.
The adverb 仮に has two main meanings, one of which overlaps with たとえ.
- “Supposing (if)…”
The first meaning is only plausible when there is conditional phrase of some sort in the sentence, and unlike たとえ, it is just an innocent suggestion/thought being posited.
Suppose that on that day we were fully booked, in that case if we were able to receive notification of cancellation prior, we would be able to invite other guests, but…
Even if you suppose that the the forests didn’t disappear and were left (in tact), you wouldn’t be able to support enough arable land to maintain a population of 8 billion people.
Suppose that mankind had been alive during the time of the dinosaurs, do you think that (we) would have still held dominion over living things?
Suppose that you had 1,000 dollars, what would you use it on?
Let’s suppose that you temporarily made set up a tent.
An old-fashioned version of たとえ, たとい has no difference in meaning and can still be seen in literature.
Even if I shall perish, I will protect my promise.
Even if God were to walk past me, I would not be able to see Him.
In older language, you may also encounter the synonymous phrase 縦しんば to mean たとえ. The んば in this expression is a contraction of ～くは, which indicates that this phrase comes from the adjective 良い.
良し in Classical Japanese could sometimes function as an adverb, making it one of the oldest examples of adjectives being used as adverbs in Japanese without any change in morphology. When used as an adverb, it served to mark situations that the speaker was letting “pass” which then let it to be used in suppositions that the speaker tolerated. At which point, it gained two emphatic forms: よしんば and よしや, the former being the form that still exists today, albeit barely.
Even if I were to lose my life, I would never do anything that would tarnish my name.
Even if I were to end in failure, I shall have no regrets.
No matter how painful it might be, I have determined to keep that matter to myself.
From 諦念 by 森鷗外．