でも (demo) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'でも (demo) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]'

Sandro Maglione

6 min reading time

Updated on 29 January 2023

でも (demo) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

The particle でも (demo) means also, however, nevertheless. でも is one of the ways in Japanese to make a sentence less direct and more polite.

でも is also part of many grammatical expressions that take up its meaning of also and but, such as:

In this post we learn more about the meaning of でも, how it is formed, and when でも is used through real example sentences.


でも: something like

When でも follows a noun it indicates that what is stated is only an example or a suggestion, and that there are other possibilities that can be considered.

ルケ

今日(きょう)はどこに()きたい?

Where do you want to go today?

ネコ

(えい)()でも()()こうよ。

Let's go see something like a movie.

This use of the でも particle is called (れい)() (illustrate an example)

コーヒーでも()みに()きませんか。

Shall we go for a coffee or something?

でも: in any case

When でも is added after nouns such as 誰 (who), どこ (where), 何 (what), or いつ (when) they take on a special meaning:

だれ+でも(anyone)
なん+でも(anything)
どこ+でも(everywhere)
いつ+でも(at all times)

This usage of でも is the same as above (suggestion or example).

どこでもいいよ。

Any place is fine.

でも to say "but" or "however"

When でも is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it means nonetheless or but what was said in the previous sentence. In this usage でも shows a sense of contrast: although, despite.

()(あい)()けちゃった。でもみんなよく(がん)()ったよ。

We lost the game. But everyone gave their best!

でも to say "also"

Another translation of でも when placed at the beginning of a sentence is also, besides. As we can see from the examples, in these cases でも is used to indicate that what is said in the first sentence is true, but also what is indicated in the second:

(いぬ)()きです。でも(ねこ)()きです。

I like dogs. But I also like cats.

でも can also take the meaning of even or not even, showing an extreme example of something:

(せん)(せい)でも()からない。

Even the teacher doesn't know.

Difference between でも and けど

Both でも and けど can be translated as but. However, there is a difference in meaning and nuance between the two:

  • けど is used at the end of the sentence, and implies that the rest of the sentence has been omitted (usually because it is obvious or to avoid being too direct)
  • でも instead is often found at the beginning of the sentence and is used to indicate contrast with what was previously said

ミル

明日(あした)()(もの)()きましょう。

Let's go shopping tomorrow.

ルケ

でも明日(あした)(やす)みです。

But tomorrow is holiday.

Let's see how でも is added at the beginning of the sentence and translated as but. In this case we want to indicate a sense of contrast with respect to what was previously said: it's vacation, so you can't go.

でも relates to something that was said earlier. In these cases it is not possible to find でも without context.

ミル

明日(あした)()(もの)()きましょう。

Let's go shopping tomorrow.

ルケ

明日(あした)(やす)みですけど。

Actually it would be vacation tomorrow...

けど instead appears at the end of the sentence. けど gives a sense that the end of the sentence has been omitted or not said directly, and that the sentence actually continues: it would be holiday tomorrow, and that's why we can't go.

でも~でも: "or even"

Another expression that uses でも is でも~でも. This expression translates into be it this or that or, negatively, neither this nor that.

Noun+でも+Noun+でも
Noun+でも+Noun+でも+Verb[ない]

これでも、それでも、(なん)でもいいです!

This or that is fine!

Specifically, this expression indicates:

  • Positive sentence: even if it is (A), even if it is (B), the result is (C)
  • Negative sentence: even if it is (A), even if it is (B), the result is not (C)

てでも: at any cost

When でも is preceded by the て form of the verb, the expression takes on the meaning of doing one thing at any cost.

Verb[て]+でも

グループを(かい)(さん)してでも(まも)りたい()(みつ)がある。

There are some secrets that I want to keep at all costs, even if the group breaks up.

This expression wants to underline the extreme desire to achieve a goal or perform an action, regardless of effort and obstacles.

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Examples of でも

(わたし)(さかな)()きです。でも(にく)()きです。

I like fish. But I also like meat.

コーヒーでも()もうかな。

Even if it's coffee, I drink it.

()(しょ)(かん)()きました。でも(ほん)()りませんでした。

I went to the library. But I didn't borrow any books.

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