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I need some help with this grammar point ’ことは'.

The definition I have is "Indeed one does something alright, but ~"

Verb / い adj ことは V2/ い2 adj "話すことは” ”高いことは”

Examples:

  • 高【たか】かったことは高かった
  • 笑う【わらう】ことは笑うがおかしくない
  • 便利【べんり】なことは便利だが、高すぎる
  • 安い【やすい】ことは安いがたちがわるい

Why is the verb/adjective always written twice? It's confusing. I just can't seem to understand these example sentences.

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1 Answer 1

This construction is usually followed by が or けれど and means something like "yes, one does X but...". It conveys the meaning that there's a caveat - the statement is true but there's a condition/fact that modifies it meaning, softening it or negating to some extent. It's used to justify your actions ("Yes, it was expensive but I needed it (so I bought it)."), providing an opposing view in a soft way ("Yes, it's nice but it's too dark (so I won't buy it)."), etc.

Don't worry about the fact that the verb or adjective is repeated twice - it's just the way the structure is built.

Note that this structure also exist for な-adjectives: な-adj ことは な2-adjだ.

It's best to understand it based on examples.

高{たか}かったことは高{たか}かった。。。
It was expensive but... (I liked it so I bought it anyway)

笑{わら}うことは笑{わら}うがおかしくない。
(Yes, ) I laughed but it wasn't really funny.

便利{べんり}なことは便利{べんり}だが、高{たか}すぎる。
(It's true) It is convenient but it's too expensive.

安{やす}いことは安{やす}いがたちがわるい。
(You may think) It is cheap but the quality is poor.


Reference

  • "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar", page 206. 「ことは」structure's explanation - translated as "indeed one does something alright, (but ~); indeed ~ (but ~); do ~ (but ~)".

  • "A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar", page 205. 「ことは」structure is compared to 「~ないこともない」. It is stated that both structure are used to not give an unconditional statement. The former is used to answer affirmative questions, the latter negative questions.

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:Do you have a reference by any chance? –  Tim May 1 at 22:25
    
That helps a little bit, thank you. I'll try thinking about it in that sort of way. –  user5268 May 1 at 22:39
2  
The reduplication can be made to sound natural, even in English: "Expensive things are expensive, I'll grant, but that's too much!" –  Kaji May 2 at 7:24
    
@Tim, what kind of reference and related to which part would you like? –  Szymon May 2 at 10:22
    
@Szymon: The first paragraph of your answer. I am realise it is your explanation, and I can't add anything but I wondered if it could be referenced. –  Tim May 3 at 0:37

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