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にしても and としても...Don't they both have a meaning of "even if"? Is there any subtle difference between these two forms?

  • This is a good quesion. +1 I've never paid any attention to this. – Kentaro Tomono Jun 15 '16 at 23:29
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There is some overlapping meaning. There are also some differences.

I think you may be touching on the deeper subject of the differences between に and と.

Comparing the definitions of に and と shows that they can both be used to refer to the result(結果) of something. に shows the result of becoming (dynamic) and と shows the result of being (stative).

According to the 大辞林, the in にしても is a form of the word なり which is a contraction of にあり and is related to なる.

The in としても is a form of the word たり which is a contraction of てあり, showing completed action and is related to である.

にしても ⇒ になるとしても ⇒ になっても
としても ⇒ であるとしても ⇒ であっても

にしても implies "even when" something becomes the case

としても implies "even if" something is the case or "even as", "even for".

Obviously there is some overlap in English as well between "even when" and "even if" and I think that this generally agrees with the overlap in Japanese between にしても and としても.

So let's compare two sentences:

赤としても黒としても...事実は変わらない

(赤であっても黒であっても)

You could think of this as "even if it's red, even if it's black", which in context might give you something like this:

  • "Whether it's red or black won't change the facts"

Or you could think of it as "even as red, even as black"...

  • "Even as red or black, it wouldn't change the facts"

Or you could think of it as "even for red, even for black"...

  • "The facts aren't going to change for red or black"

赤にしても黒にしても...事実は変わらない

(赤になっても黒になっても)

This could be thought of as "even when it's red, even when it's black".

In context, maybe something like this:

  • "The facts won't change whether we make it red or black"

Or you could think of it as "even for red, even for black"...

  • "The facts won't change for red or black"

However, using にしても I think it's difficult to get the meaning "even as" because while として implies taking on a role as something (医者として - "as a doctor"), にして can't really fully express the idea of taking on a role.

Just as a final note, I think using the volitional ~しましょう makes the difference between に and と a little clearer.

しましょう - Let's make it red

しましょう - Let's say that it's red

  • 「にとして can't really fully express the idea of taking on a role.」っていうところ、「にとして」であってます?「にして」って書こうとされました? – Chocolate Jun 16 '16 at 4:39
  • @chocolate あらまぁ…修正しました。毎度! – sazarando Jun 16 '16 at 6:29
3

This is a good question, I personally think. If you google it in Japanese, even Japanese are confused too and I also haven't paid any particular attention to when to use them.

Granted, this site explains as follows.

About にしても

* A, if not B「たとえBではないにしてもA」:AとBの位置に同じ種類の語句を置き、A, if not B の形で使われる if は even if の意味を持ち、「たとえBではないにしてもA」(もしかしたらBかもしれない)という状況を表します。

A if not B type 「たとえBではないにしてもA」:Placing same quality ( quantity? kind? ) of things at the positions of A and B respectively. The "if" used in " A if not B type " means "even if" and in Japanese it is 「たとえBではないにしてもA」, expressing the situation "it is A but maybe it could be B".

としても

From the link

「それで命を落としたとしても私はそれをやります」

I will do it even if I may die to do it.

Expressing in English "even if".

For example,

My examples are...

AにしてもBにしても同類{どうるい}だよ。

The person A and B are same kind after all, I think.

私はクビになったとしてもこれを言わねばなりません。

I must say this even if I might be laid of by saying this.

So in short, にしても does not have strong nuance of "even if".

  • quanity = quantity? quality (repeated)? – macraf Jun 16 '16 at 1:59
  • I'm sorry, quantity, quality, essence etc etc.... – Kentaro Tomono Jun 16 '16 at 2:17
  • Don't feel sorry, just fix the typo. – macraf Jun 16 '16 at 4:19

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