To my understanding, in a normal non-conditional clause “どうせ” has a function of saying that something makes the surrounding context irrelevant, similar to “anyway” in English. As in for instance “あのパーティーにいるかどうかはどうでもいい、どうせ行かないから。” for something like “I don't care whether he'll be at that party or not, as I won't be going anyway.”

But I'm often encountering “どうせ” in contexts with a form of “〜だろう” attached where it seems to have a very different meaning that I can't find anything about in any particular resource, rather seemingly emphasizing the speakers expects something to be the case in a dismissive way. For instance something like “お前たちはどうせなにか企んでるだろう。” for what seems to mean something like “I bet you guys are planning something.”, seemingly losing all of the normal connotation of “どうせ” that it makes the surrounding context irrelevant as I often encounter it contexts where no such implication seems to make sense.

Is my understanding correct that “どうせ” often loses this implication of marking the surrounding context as irrelevant when coupled with “〜だろう”? or is there more to it what I don't understand?

  • どうせ has two subtly different meanings. Existence of だろう does not exclude either of them, so answer should be no if that is what you mean.
    – sundowner
    Sep 4 at 10:58
  • @sundowner And these two different meanings are the two I hinted at? As in the meaning similar to “anyway” and to “I bet that”?
    – Zorf
    Sep 4 at 11:28
  • I don't know what exactly you're having in mind, but basically they are 1. 'anyway' and 2. 'resignation'. どうせ勝つだろう means 'either way, I'll win' but can contain #2 as well e.g. if the speaker thinks the fighting is futile. お前たちはどうせなにか企んでるだろう would be #1 but can contain #2 in a similar way.
    – sundowner
    Sep 4 at 12:38
  • @Zorf It's all about context and what comes before (and possibly after) the "どうせ" (regardless of the presense or absence of "だろう"). The “お前たちはどうせなにか企んでるだろう。” could be "You guys are probably already up to something anyway." with an implied "and nothing I say or do will change your minds", or maybe "and you're only pretending to ask for my opinion"... You can only determine if "どうせ" points to acceptance of a foregone conclusion or resignation in the face of something that can't be changed by putting yourself in the mindset of the speaker.
    – Philippe
    Sep 4 at 13:51

2 Answers 2


In "どうせなにか企んでるだろう", the word どうせ carries nuances like "I know it, so there's no need to think much about this matter" or "Whatever you guys say doesn't matter". Therefore, it still can be understood based on the basic meaning of "irrespective of the surrounding context, the conclusion is inevitable". In English, phrases such as "be that as it may", "whatever you may say", "at the end of the day", or "after all" might be similar.


Yes, you are generally correct, and the comments here so far are on point as well. If there are "more" to it as you have your doubts, it's best to exlore use of どうせ WITHOUT だろう。You have good grasp of the grammar, now it's time to look at the real life examples. Surprisingly few cases of どうせ ends with だろう。

どうせやるなら、派手にやろう。"If we're gonna do it, we're NOT gonna half-ass it!" (say, imagine you are planning a party and you don't like someone planning a sensible if mediocre party.)

どうせ私は下っ端ですよ。"Doesn't matter anyway, I'm just a peon here." Suppose you said something profound, and you want to gripe that you are just a bottom level worker there so what you say wouldn't make any difference.

何でも事の起りは、あの界隈の米屋の亭主が、風呂屋で、隣同志の紺屋の職人と喧嘩をしたのですな。どうせ起りは、湯がはねかったとか何とか云う、つまらない事からなのでしょう。 (Ryunosuke Attagawa, 「或日の大石内蔵助」)

How it all began was, the rice dealer got in a fight with the dyer's shop worker next door at the public bath. I bet you it was something stupid like he splashed his face accidentally or something like that.

Let me put a link here where you can see various uses of the word どうせ in well-known literatures.


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