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In this dictionary I checked, there are two definitions for けれども. I also checked in my Japanese to English printed dictionary and there was only one definition, but in my Japanese to Chinese printed dictionary, there were two definitions as well.
Unfortunately, I'm not good in Japanese and I can't read Chinese very well, so I'm unable to find out the difference between the two definitions apart from that one is labelled as a conjunction and the other as a conjunctive particle, in both dictionaries, and that doesn't really explain anything to me.

Could someone please give me an explanation of the two けれどもs?

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2 Answers 2

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The first is marked (short for 接続詞{せつぞくし} "conjunction"), while the second is divided into 接助 (short for 接続助詞{せつぞくじょし} "conjunctive particle") and 終助 (short for [終助詞]{しゅうじょし} "sentence-final particle").

So what's the difference? As it says, and as you can see from the examples, they are different parts of speech. The conjunction can appear at the beginning of a sentence, as in the example it gives:

「彼は頑固だ。けれども、話はわかる人間だ」

The conjunctive particle, however, appears after the 終止形{しゅうしけい} ("terminal form") of an inflectable word (such as a verb or adjective). The dictionary gives this example:

「年はとっているけれども、実に活動的だ」

Compare the examples. The former is two sentences long because the conjunction けれども begins a new sentence; the latter is only one sentence long because the conjunctive particle けれども attaches directly to the verb.

Finally, there's also the sentence-final particle けれども. Much like the conjunctive particle けれども, the sentence-final version appears after the terminal form of an inflectable word. Unlike the conjunctive particle, however, it ends the sentence. See this example from プログレッシブ和英中辞典:

お願いがあるんですけれど
I have a favor to ask of you.

In this answer, I've focused only on the difference between parts of speech. However, the sentence-final version of けれども is also semantically different. Since that semantic difference has already been covered in a separate question, I will refer to it here—please see けど at the end of the sentence?.

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Are the conjunction and the conjunctive particle interchangeable? For example, can the full stop be removed from the first example or added before the けれども to mean the exact same thing? –  小太郎 Feb 2 '13 at 5:31
    
@小太郎 It works in that example because the first sentence ends in a 終止形 (terminal form), which the 接続助詞 (conjunctive particle) version of けれども requires. However, with an example like 「〜ますよね。けれど、…」 joining them doesn't work, because is a 終助詞 (sentence-final particle), and 終助詞 isn't a type of 終止形. –  snailboat Feb 2 '13 at 9:51

It's exactly what it says. If you look at the example sentences from your link I think it'll be easier to get the difference:

[接]《接続助詞「けれども」から》前に述べた事柄と相反する内容を導く語。だが。しかし。「彼は頑固だ。―、話はわかる人間だ」

And the other:

1 確定の逆接条件を表し、内容の矛盾する事柄を対比的に結びつける意を表す。「言うことはりっぱだ―、することはなってない」「年はとっている―、実に活動的だ」

I've bolded relevant parts and omitted the other 2 definitions from the second, but the defining characteristic is that the former begins a sentence while the latter ends a clause and connects it to another. Forgive me for not giving all the grammatical lingo, but them's the basics.

Think of it like this. けれども (or just けど) at the end of a sentence in Japanese is like starting a sentence in English with "although." Using it at the beginning is like starting a sentence with "but" or "however" or something like that. Notice how the first definition lists it as equivalent to だが or ただし. Those can't be used as conjunctive particles, so if you think of that usage of けど as the same as those two, you can't go wrong.

Ultimately I think you probably know the meaning, and you don't need to get caught up over the minutiae in the dictionaries. It's just a matter of where you say it.

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