I wonder if someone could confirm my understanding of the grammar in the following sentence on p32 of the Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar:


Later the teacher gave the gourd he had taken from Seibei to an old janitor as if it was a filthy object.

I think it is taken from a children's story so it is supposed to be written with basic words but results in a difficult expression*.

My clumsy analysis of the section 汚れた物ででもあるかのように、捨てるように is

汚れた物で= "it is a dirty object and/but.."

でもあるか= "we still have it?!", でも="still" in the sense of extreme, か conveys surprise

(か)のように、= "as if", the particles indicate that the preceding expression describes the position of the teacher to the gourd ("It is dirty, and we still have it?!")

捨てるように = in order to throw away

[小使いにやってしまった = gave it to the janitor]

If I put this together I think we find the teacher:

"gave [the gourd] to the janitor, as if it was being thrown away, as if it was something still in our possession that was dirty[and therefore should be thrown out]"

Is this correct? Could we replace ででもあるかのように with として? If so, how much of the poetical nature of the original Japanese would be lost?

*It may just be me but I often found the "simple" explanations of grammatical expressions in the JLPT books that use this type of language harder than the expressions itself!

  • FWIW, I have added my literal translation (based on my analysis)
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2014 at 5:36

1 Answer 1


ででもある(か) is the tricky part of this sentence, although it could be deleted with almost no change in meaning.

It is in fact である (=だ) with でも ("or something") placed in the middle. In the same way you might see である ("is [with contrast]") or である ("is also"), this is ででもある ("is or something"). (It could probably also mean "is even" in other contexts?)

So 汚れた物ででもある means "is a dirty object or something", + かのように (as if it is a ~).

汚れたもののように, 汚れたものかのように, 汚れたものであるかのように... all of these are pretty much the same with increasing levels of verbosity and very slight extra nuance as explained above. Incidentally, some people might tend to avoid the second one because of か immediately following a noun, but I often see it used myself. There's some discussion on that here.

  • The second ように looks like ~ようにして (in the way) to me.
    – Yang Muye
    Jun 1, 2014 at 4:44
  • I'm not sure how to explain that ように, so I'll delete that part of the answer, I think. (Feel free to write your own.)
    – Hyperworm
    Jun 1, 2014 at 4:47
  • 1
    I would have thought 汚れた物として捨てるようにやる was quite grammatical and would be acceptable as "to give as if you were going to throw it away as dirty/defiled"?
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2014 at 5:01
  • This agrees with you on a similar usage; looks like I was temporarily blinded from normal usage. Well, time to delete that too. ♪~( ̄ε ̄;)
    – Hyperworm
    Jun 1, 2014 at 5:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .