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I learned that you can use でも (demo) at the beginning of a sentence to mean "but," and that you can use けど (kedo) at the end of a sentence to mean "though." However, I don't see a difference between these two.

For example, suppose someone says this:

  • あした かいもの に いきましょう. Ashita kaimono ni ikimashō. "Let's go shopping tomorrow."

Would there be any difference in these two responses?

  • でも あした は やすみ です. Demo ashita wa yasumi desu. "But tomorrow is a holiday."
  • あした は やすみ です けど. Ashita wa yasumi desu kedo. "Tomorrow is a holiday though."

To me, these two responses seem to have the exact same meaning. So my question is this: Are there are any differences between でも (demo) and けど (kedo)? It seems like the placement of the "but" (でも at the beginning and けど at the end) could change the emphasis. Is that true? If so, how?

Also, are there any situations when you can use one but not the other?

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でも cannot really go at the end of a sentence, whereas けど can: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2086/… – Dave Aug 19 '11 at 0:39
up vote 35 down vote accepted

でも and けど are both "but". However, けど links a second clause - which may or may not be actually said out loud.

So, when you are saying "あした は やすみ です けど." you are actually saying something more like:

"Tomorrow is a holiday (but), so we can't go to the store"

but dropping the "obvious" bit of the sentence.


Another very important usage of this - at least heavily used here in Kansai - is to "soften" your statement when you make an assertion about something, so as to not appear too strong. It works with the same idea:

"I'd like to go けど"  ... "I'd like to go (but I won't if that causes difficulty for someone)"

You'll hear this ALL the time! It's a nice little "early step" in your Japanese, to be a bit more Japanese-sounding.

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I think you are correct: the meaning of your 2 example sentences is the same. But to me the nuance feels a little different between the two. Whereas "でも あした は やすみ です." feels like a simple statement of fact, "あした は やすみ です けど." feels like there is an expectation that the first speaker should have known that tomorrow is a holiday.

I can't think of any situations when you could use one and not the other.

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I'm not Japanese, but I'm Asian and where I am from, we share the same or almost the same sort of colloquial idiosyncracy when it comes to what we term in English as a "hanging sentence".

Both JMadsen and Samurai Soul are correct. It is the intention of the speaker who uses "kedo" to "softly" put forth an opposing idea as a response to another statement. It's "soft" in a way as being polite and not too forward about it as it allows the other speaker to "sort the logic out" in the "kedo" sentence by him/herself.

Culturally, Asians are naught to putting up very forward or strongly opposing replies to queries not emanating from a business standpoint. Meaning in everyday, common but polite or semi polite conversations among friends, relatives or acquaintances, "kedo" would offer a very good nuance to a smooth conversation. But depending on how one stresses the "kedo" sentence, it also adds more "color" to the inward intention of the speaker just like in English.

An emphatic "kedo" or "demo" might allow a further query or worse, an argument to ensue.

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