The Particle でも

第74課: The Particle でも


The Adverbial Particle でも

でも is like “even” and often lessens the tone of a sentence. In the latter case, it is seen in contexts where the speaker is often trying to make some sort of suggestion or offer to someone. Options are implied given the literal interpretation of “even”. This is meant to be less direct so one doesn’t sound pushy. 

でも is simply the て形 of the copula with も. So, ~ても is very similar but with adjectives and verbs to mean “even though”. The negative form of this is ~なくても or ~ないでも, although the latter is uncommon and rather literary.

 Part of Speech Pattern Meaning
 名詞 でも ~Even
 形容詞 ~ても ~(Even) though
 形容動詞 ~(であっ)ても ~(Even) though
 動詞 ~ても・でも ~(Even) though

Although there are situations where translation may change, the general purpose of these modals is to make a 逆接関係, which is Japanese terminology for a contradictory relationship. This should make sense in light of the translations above.  

Particle Note: It is not used with particles such as が, を, and は, but it can be seen after other particles such as に, と, から, and まで. However, in slightly older Japanese, you can see combinations such as ~をでも. It is not advisable to use this as it is, again, not used anymore.     

Origin Note: でも comes from the て form of だ + も.   


1. 先生でも分からないな。(Masculine)
    Even the teacher doesn’t understand it.

2. おちゃでも飲みますか。
    Literally: Do you want to drink even (if it’s) tea?
    Shall we drink tea or something?

3. ここでも、あそこでも、子供が遊んでいます。
     There are children playing here and even over there.

4. あの人のいうことは、満更嘘まんざらうそでもない。
    What that person says isn’t all a lie.

5.  彼はまたしても「おねがいします」と来た。
     He came again saying, “Please.”

6a. 彼が言わないでも、分かるでしょう。 (Usually don’t use)
6b. 彼が言わなくても、分かるでしょう。(More natural)
      Even if he doesn’t say, you’ll probably understand.

7. どうでもいい。
     I don’t care.
     Literally: Whatever it is, it’s OK.

8. コーヒーでもどう?おごるよ。
     How about a coffee on me?

9. どんなことがあっても絶対ぜったいに行くんだ。(Assertive)
     No matter what, I’m definitely going to go!

10. 雨がっていても、ゲームは楽しかった。
      Even though it had been raining, I enjoyed the game.

11. いずれにしても飲酒運転は絶対にしません。
     In any case, I absolutely do not drink and drive. 

12. 私でも分かります。
      Even I understand. 

13. そんな例はいくつでも見つかる。
      You can find ever so many such examples.

14. 彼はまずしくてもしあわせだ。
      He is happy even though he is poor.

15. メキシコでは、冬になっても、雪がらない。
      It doesn’t snow in Mexico even in the winter.

16. 居ても立ってもいられなかった。
      I couldn’t sit still.

Set Phrase Note: This last phrase literally means that one couldn’t even be sitting or standing. 居る originally meant “to sit”, and it is used in its original sense in this phrase.   

 何と言っても: Undeniably (lit. = no matter what they say)

17. 何といってもこの曲が一番だよね。
    No matter what you say, this song is the best.  

18. 何といってもいのちだけは大事だいじだ。
      Life is no doubt but the only important thing.

でいい is like “it’s all right/OK to”, でかまわない is like “I don’t care/mind if you”, and でさしつかえない is like “it won’t interfere if you”. All three generally represent the same thing, and their purpose is to show permission. でも can be used instead of で, and the inclusion of も makes the phrases less direct. でも may appear as ても as these are also て form speech modals.

19. 新しくなくてもいいですか。
      Is it OK if it’s not new?

20. 中古車ちゅうこしゃでもかまいませんか
      Do you mind if it’s a used vehicle? 

21. 参加さんかなくてもいいでしょうか
      Is it all right for me not to participate? 

22. 心配しんぱいなくていいから。
      It’s all right not to worry.

23. トイレを使つかていいですか
      May I use the bathroom?

Classroom Note: The above sentence is an essential classroom phrase.

24. いえてもさしつかえませんか
      Is it all right if the house is old?

25. 十一階じゅういっかいのシングルルームでよろしいですか
       Is a single room on the eleventh floor all right?

26. どれでもけっこうですよ。
      Anything will do.

27. 何をやっても一日と続かない。
      No matter what you do, it won’t continue for another day.  


This pattern is used to show that no matter what you do with whatever means necessary, you carry it out. The verb phrase that follows should be one that shows intention. This phrase is typically translated as “no matter if”, but let this not detract from the fact that what follows is a statement of what is/should be carried out rather than showing despair.   

28. 若い時の苦労くろうは買ってでもせよ。(Proverb)
      By all means do so no matter if you buy hardships in youth.

Proverb Note: This proverb says that hardships when you’re young become great experiences for the future, so it is best to seek them out. 

29. 金で買ってでも、苦労した方がいいのは、若いうちだけだ。
      No matter if you buy with money, it’s only best to have hardships when one is young.