No Matter If: たとえ

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. 

品詞(たとえ+・・・) Example
 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. NounAdj. 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)
 NounN + 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.

1. たとえ雨が降っても出かけるぞ。

I’m heading out no matter if it rains. 

2. たとえ仕事が忙しくても、毎日サイトの編集をしています。
No matter if I’m busy with work, I am editing the website every day.

3. たとえ面倒でも3か月ごとに健康診断を受けるようにしています。
No matter how much of a pain it is, I make sure to get a health exam every 3 months.

4.  法定労働時間を超える労働は、厳密にはたとえ1分でも割増賃金の支払いを要する。
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.

5. たとえ殺されても信念は曲げられない。
Even if I were to be killed, my conviction wouldn’t be bent.

6. たとえ相手が無傷であっても、殺人未遂罪が成立するのだ。
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

品詞 Base 助動詞 Example
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

品詞 Base 助動詞 Example
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.  

7. たとえ死のうが輪廻する限り人はまた苦しむ。
No matter if they die, people will suffer once more for as long as they are reincarnated.

8. たとえコロナの第10波が来ようとも、我々は乗り越えて元通りの生活には必ず戻るんだ!
No matter if the tenth wave of COVID strikes, we will overcome it and will positively return to our normal lives! 

9. たとえ原発が必要であろうが、必要でなかろうが、とにかく何が何でも動かす。
No matter if nuclear power is necessary or not, they’re going to run (the plants) at any rate regardless. 

10. たとえ何をしようとも支持しよう。
I will support you no matter what it is that you do.

11. たとえ何があろうとやります。
I’ll do it no matter what the case might be.

12. たとえ反対されようが、人が離れていこうが、自分が納得できるまで突き進んでいきたい。

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). 

13. 両者の間には、たとえあったとしてもごく僅わずかしか相違はありません。
Even if there were differences between the two parties, there would hardly be any at whatsoever.

14. たとえあいつと会ったのが1回だけだとしても、とても許せない。
Even if you were to only have met that guy only once, I cannot possibly forgive you for it.

15. たとえ被害者に何等かの落ち度があったとしても、いじめの責任のすべては加害者にある!
No matter if there were any sort of lapse by the victim, full responsible for bullying lies with the offender.

16. たとえ志望校に入学できたとしても、卒業後一番大事な「社会」に出たときに苦労することになる。
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. 

17. たとえ世界が滅んだとしても君が死ぬのは一度きり。
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. 

18. たとえ明日世界が終ろうとしても、必ず君を守るから。
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 SpeechHow to Combine
Adjectival NounsAdj. Noun + である + に[しろ・せよ] 
   Nouns (w/ copula) Noun (+ である) + に[しろ・せよ]

19. たとえ冗談(である)にしろ、傷つけるようなことはいうべきではない。
Even if it’s just a joke, you should not say hurtful things.

20. たとえ才能があるにせよ、努力しなければ上手に話せるようにならない。
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.

21. 明日はたとえ豪雨にしろ吹雪にしろ会社は休めない。
Whether tomorrow is extreme rain or a blizzard, I can’t take the day off from the company.

Related Adverbs

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.

21. 文法的に主語が必須でなかろうと、主語を補った方が論理的であるのなら補えば良い。
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.

22. 独り暮らしをしないにしろ、自分で簡単な料理くらいできたほうがいい。
No matter whether you’re not living alone, it’s best to at least know how to many simple things by yourself. 

23.  何度こっちがLINEを終わらせようとしても、向こうがずっと終わらせない。

No matter how many times I try ending our LINE, the other person will always not let it end. 

24. いくら待っても彼女は来ない。
She won’t come no matter how long I wait.

25. どれだけ社会で成功しようがしまいが、たとえ2億円もの高級マンションにて息を引き取ろうが、道端で野垂れ死にしようが、実際には、何の違いもないことさえ知れば、随分と生きやすくなる。
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. 

26. この携帯は、いくら落としても画面が割れません。
The screen on this phone won’t crack no matter how many times you drop it.

27. いくら美味しくても、ラーメンを毎日は食べられない。
No matter how delicious it might be, I can’t eat ramen every day.

28. どんなに苦しくてもいつでも支えてくれる人がいるから私は生きていけます。
No matter how tough it might be, I am able to live on because there are always people there to support me. 

29. どんなにお酒を飲んでも吐いたことがありません。
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. 

31. たとえどんなに願っても君は戻れない。
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. 

  1. “Supposing (if)…”
  2. “Temporarily” 

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. 

32.  仮にその日が満室だった場合、キャンセルのご連絡を事前にいただければ他のお客様をご案内することもできますが・・・
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…

33.  仮に森が消滅せずに残っていたとしても、80億人もの人口を賄える農耕地を維持できない。
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. 

34.  仮に恐竜の時代に人類が生きていたとしても、生物の覇権を握っていたと思いますか?
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? 

35. 仮に一千ドルあるとしたら何に使うの?
Suppose that you had 1,000 dollars, what would you use it on? 

36. 仮にテントを張ったとしましょう。
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. 

37. たといこの身が滅ぼうとも約束は守る。
Even if I shall perish, I will protect my promise.

38. たとい神が私のそばを通り過ぎても私には見えない。
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. 

39.  よしんば命を落としたとしても自身の名に恥じるような事はしない。
Even if I were to lose my life, I would never do anything that would tarnish my name.

40. 縦しんば失敗したとしても後悔はせぬ。
Even if I were to end in failure, I shall have no regrets. 

41. よしや切ない思いをしても、その思いを我が胸一つに疊んでおこうと決心した。
No matter how painful it might be, I have determined to keep that matter to myself. 
From 諦念 by 森鷗外.