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I've seen from this link and other sources that verb-てまで means "to the point of verb" or "to the extent of verb". But I can't make this work in the phrase below.

必死で努力してまでほめられるの...

being praised to the point of being frantic and making effort.

From the context I think it should be talking about being frantic and making effort so that he can get praise.

Is there another interpretation of verb-てまで that makes more sense here?

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  • I'm no expert, but I think your interpretation is backwards, and that the idea is "being praised enough that x will work as hard as possible" or something like that. Someone more knowledgeable could correct me if I'm wrong.
    – Kurausukun
    Nov 9, 2015 at 2:36

1 Answer 1

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To approach it from a different angle, it may be useful to know that 〜してまで is about weighing the worth of actions. Often the whole construct is negated, meaning that Y is not worth X:

[X してまで Y する] 〜ない
Y is not worth doing X


Breakdown: Negated example

お金を払ってまで食べようとは思わない
I don't feel like eating it to the extent of paying money.

You're actually weighing two things, and saying that 食べる is not worth お金を払う:

[お金を払う してまで 食べる] 〜ようとは思わない


Breakdown: Non-negated example

命をかけてまで助けてくれた
They saved me, to the point of risking their life.

Here, the rescuer weighed the two things, and decided that 助ける was worth 命をかける:

[命をかける してまで 助ける] 〜してくれた


必死で努力してまでほめられる

I'm not sure about the context of the ellipsis in your example, but even from that stub you can parse the overall sentiment as:

ほめられる is not worth 必死で努力する

The ellipsis could signify a question (Is getting praise worth making a frantic effort…?), or disapproval (Wow, making a frantic effort for praise…). Or it could actually be a non-negated statement, like “必死で努力してまでほめられるのが好き!” (I like getting praise so much that it is worth a frantic effort!).

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