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I came across a long sentence in a story, which I have googled around and struggled for a couple of days. Here is what it reads:

この頃わかってきたのだが、旅人の中には用心のためか、こちらの挨拶に頷くぐらいしか、挨拶を返さないものが少なくない。

My rough translation would be:

At this time, you come to understand a fact that, in among the travelers, for the sake of precaution, they only return our greetings so much with a nod, and quite a few simply do not return greetings at all.

I’m not sure if I have got the idea right. But what haunting me most is the “が” in the first phrase この頃わかってきたのだが. What is “が” doing here for? There is no contradictory sense in the sentence. I mean, there is no need for “が” to function as a button to remind the readers that something contradictory is coming up.

Besides, I discovered that in some subjunctive sentences, they put a “が” at the end too, such as: もし私が鳥ならば、君のところへ飛んで行けるのだが. (If I were a bird, I would fly to you.)

There you go, “が” is haunting again.

Please enlighten me. Thank you.

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I don't have enough reputation yet to comment, so I'm going to post it here. :)

The linked thread explains the meaning of the が very well.

When looking at your translation, I noticed that you made two seperate sentences out of: こちらの挨拶に頷くぐらいしか、挨拶を返さないものが少なくない

しか and 挨拶を返さない are one grammatical construction and belong together (I'm not really sure why there is a coma anyway): しか + negative verb > "only, just"

I would probably translate the sentence like this:

What I understood from that time, is that there are a lot of people among travelers, maybe for the sake of precaution, who returned our greetings only with a nod.

  • Thank you for the replies. You've already helped a lot, and I'm looking forward to more comments. PS: I did not separate the last two phrases on purpose. I simply copy them from the book "ドラゴン キーパー” (Japanese translation of Dragon Keeper) – donguri Apr 11 '16 at 12:55
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    After scouring the forums on related threads, I found two very helpful clues: 1. When "だが" is used (at the end of the first clause followed by a comma) to introduce the next clause, it can mean "it's about.." or "when it comes to...". It does not necessarily mean "but" or "although". 2. When "のだが" is used at the end of a sentence, it can help adding a flavor of "regret" to the whole sentence. – donguri Apr 11 '16 at 18:43

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