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I have read several definitions of だって but none of them seem to make sense when I see it at the beginning of a sentence and I read the context. I saw one example Japanese sentence and in the English translation だって wasn't translated into anything.

So what is だって when it's at the beginning of a sentence?

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2 Answers 2

だって (at the beginning of a sentence!) is always followed by:

  • reason, pretext (because, ...etc.)
  • opposition (but, ...etc.)

So it's not only 'but' or 'like I said'.

It's context dependent and it CAN be translated as because.

(Context is an emo-schoolgirl-drama.)

山崎くん:スマイルぐらいしてよ。なんでオレともう喋らないの?

At least give me a smile. Why don't you talk to me anymore?

リカちゃん:だって、「りかちゃんが好きじゃない」って聞いちゃった

Because I heard you don't like me.

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Well, since I have no examples to go off of, I'll guess at which type of scenario you're thinking of. It can mean like "But" or "Well (then)" in a kind of defensive sort of way. Usually giving a reason for some action. Like なぜかというと. Ex:

お皿{さら}のものはみんな食{た}べなさい → Eat everything on your plate.
だってお腹{なか}が一杯{いっぱい}なんだもん → But I'm full!

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Can it mean "because?" –  language hacker Nov 4 '11 at 23:41
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Perhaps, but the most common way I see だって translations go wrong is using "because" when it's not appropriate. だって is used to indicate that you're providing (or implying that you have) personal thoughts/reasons justifying your behaviour/statements. It implores the other person to agree with your logic. "Because" has much more of a sense of completely firm reasoning that doesn't admit discussion. When it seems that "because" applies, "I mean / after all" is probably more fitting. (I'd advise you to post some example sentences if you want more clarification.) –  Hyperworm Nov 5 '11 at 1:22
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I was thinking of how だから gets used in anime. It often seems like an interjection, or like it would be better translated "Like I said" or something like that. –  Karl Knechtel Nov 5 '11 at 17:24
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I've often heard だから beginning a sentence, meaning either "Like I said ..." or "So ...", but I really don't see how that can be compared to だって (other than that they're both prone to being mistranslated). –  Hyperworm Nov 6 '11 at 3:52
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[お皿さらのものはみんな食たべなさい] This sentence is EXTREMELY suspicious :) –  龚元程 Nov 7 '11 at 14:16

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