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What’s the difference between [v] たとしても and just the plain ても, Example:

(1) 説明書を読んでも分かりにくい

(2) 説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい

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I think 読んだとしでも must be a typo for 読んだとしても. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 12 '11 at 16:06
    
@Tsuyoshi ah silly me –  Pacerier Jun 12 '11 at 16:13
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The difference between these two hinges on whether or not the action has been completed at the time the statement was made:

説明書を読んでも分かりにくい

This could be taken in one of two ways:

  1. Even if you (I) read the instructions, it will [still] be hard to understand.

  2. Even after reading the instructions, it is [still] hard to understand.

So with the ~ても form in this sentence, the action (読む) may have already taken place, or it may be a hypothetical action to take place in the future.

説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい

By contrast, the ~としても pattern always refers to a hypothetical situation which may or may not take place in the future. As such, the translation "even supposing you were to [action]" often works well for ~たとしても:

  1. Even supposing you (I) were to read the instructions, it would [still] be hard to understand.

Note that while both ~ても and ~たとしても can both express hypothetical cases, ~ても better matches a "even if … will" pattern, while ~たとしても better matches a "even supposing … would" pattern in English.

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is it true to say that if what i want is a hypothetical case, でも would be better? (just like how "even if" sounds better than "even supposing.." because the latter sounds like the probability its going to happen is lower?) –  Pacerier Jun 15 '11 at 11:14
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@Pacerier: I think the difference is that the ~たとしても form is most useful when you want to emphasize that the action hasn't occurred, but for the sake of argument you're going to consider what would happen were it to occur. Compare 治療したとしても治らない。 (Even supposing we treated it, it wouldn't heal.) with 治療しても治らない。. With the ~ても sentence, you can't tell if the treatment has actually taken place. (The ambiguity disappears if you add something like だろう or と思う on the end to make it clear you're talking about a hypothetical future event.) Aside from this, I don't think there's a significant difference. –  Derek Schaab Jun 15 '11 at 13:06
    
ok cool i'll keep that in mind –  Pacerier Jun 16 '11 at 15:15
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  1. 説明書を読んでも分かりにくい

    It's hard to understand although I read instructions.

  2. 説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい

    It's hard to understand even if I read the instructions.

〜ても also has some sense like としても, if you use like

読んでも分からないと思う (I don't think I will understand it even if I read it)

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I may be wrong about that, but I think (た-Form)としても has an extra sense of supposition, while ~ても has a much more 'real' feeling (in the sense of realis).

I'll take YOU's examples, which I understand (and would translate) quite differently. In the most literal sense, they spell to me as:

  1. 説明書を読んでも分かりにくい
    Reading the instructions, this is still hard to understand.
  2. 説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい
    Supposing one reads the instructions - this is still hard to understand.

There's actually no focal (emphasizing) "even" in either of the sentences in Japanese. If you want to emphasize that that reading the instructions was supposed to help but didn't really help you, you can use たとえ:

  1. たとえ説明書を読んでも分かりにくい
    Even though I read the instructions... Even if one reads the instructions...

  2. たとえ説明書を読んだとしても分かりにくい
    Even if I - let's say - read the instructions...

Since I've moved to a less literal translation here you can notice something else: (1) easily translates to both a simple concessive statement (although X happens, Y happens too) and a concessive condition (even if X happens, Y will also happen). When we get to (2) on the other hand, it can only be a condition - that's is because ~たとしても is a supposition so it can only be used to describe hypothetical situations, not something that actually happens now or has happened before.

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