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An excerpt from Harry Potter (Japanese translation);

その時ハリーは、勇敢とも、間抜けともいえるような行動に出た。
Then Harry behaved in a way you could call both brave and idiotic. (My TL)

I think the meaning of the sentence is clear but I'm wondering how I should be thinking about とも here.

First, I'm assuming that いえる is the potential form of 言う. My immediate thought is that the と in とも is the quotative と and that it pairs up with いえる. So that I would have the standard form 勇敢も間抜けも (both brave and stupid) with each part separately quoted.

My doubt about the above comes from the fact that と is used twice. Why not just 勇敢も間抜けとも? (I'd still expect とも rather than もと because I know も likes to move to the right).

I know とも can also be a noun-suffix meaning both/all, and perhaps that is what is used here (I'm not so familiar with this word), and the quotative と has been omitted.

I'm favouring my former theory but I'd like to know for sure.

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  • +1: I would think that 勇敢も間抜けとも sounds a bit strange since the も's are pairing up on different grammatical features: the first on a noun and the second on the quotative particle. It makes me wonder whether 勇敢も間抜けもと would sound natural. Somehow, I think it's AともBとも that sounds most natural. But I can't explain why.
    – A.Ellett
    Feb 4 at 17:57
  • @A.Ellett 勇敢も間抜けとも doesn't sound natural. Feb 4 at 18:02
  • @GuiImamura OK. So my intuition isn't totally off then.
    – A.Ellett
    Feb 4 at 18:04
  • 勇敢も in itself is already incorrect as this 勇敢 is an adjective.
    – aguijonazo
    Feb 4 at 19:31
  • も alone equates the noun to the subject so it's like saying harry and bravery...
    – shinku
    Feb 4 at 21:28

1 Answer 1

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勇敢 and 間抜け both describe how Harry, or his behavior, was at the moment. They would be predicates in the quoted sentence(s).

ハリー(の行動)は勇敢だ。

ハリー(の行動)は間抜けだ。

も can't be used to join two predicates like this.

[*] ハリー(の行動)は勇敢も間抜けだ。

This is simply ungrammatical.

You can say:

ハリー(の行動)は勇敢でもあり、間抜けでもある。

But this is not what you want to quote. It would mean It can be said that Harry possessed both qualities at the same time.

[ハリー(の行動)は勇敢でもあり、間抜けでもある]と言える

What you want to do with も is to put the two statements at the beginning of this answer into the category of things "sayable." This requires each to be quoted separately.

[ハリー(の行動)は勇敢だ]とも、[ハリー(の行動)は間抜けだ]とも言える

ハリー is already established as the topic of the sentence (as the subject of 行動に出た), so you should remove it here. Take out 行動 to modify it with the rest of the clause and remove the optional だ, and you get this:

[勇敢]とも、[間抜け]とも言える行動


The other とも you mentioned is 共. It's used after a noun that refers to multiple things, as in 二人とも, or a list of nouns like Aさん、Bさんとも.

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  • This addresses the doubled と, but not the inclusive/plural とも also mentioned in the question. That option is clearly not right (it would mean something like, “both/all of the braves and all of the idiotics”, which doesn’t really make any sense), but the answer would be improved by addressing it explicitly. Feb 5 at 11:32

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