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もし時間がないなら、明日でもいいよ。

Why is the particle で used? With time expressions the で particle expresses time limit. So it's weird to see the で with 明日. 明日もいいよ seems better(?). でも here can be the "even though/even/but" meaning. But も sounds better(?).

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  • You should look up でも in the dictionary. This is not で + も、 nor is it でも 'but' but it's でも 'or something'
    – oals
    Oct 9, 2016 at 8:06

2 Answers 2

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One way to think of it, which I found in the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, is:

でも = て-form of です/だ + も

= verb meaning “to be” + particle meaning “even”*

〜でもいい is the です/だ version of the grammatical pattern 〜てもいい, which we use when asking for permission to do things. By putting the verb です/だ in its て-form, we can then ask if the thing itself (a noun) is permissible.

  • お手洗い行ってもいいですか?/ May I go to the bathroom? [literally: Is even going to the bathroom OK?]
  • お手洗いでもいいですか?/ Is the bathroom OK? [literally: Is even it being the bathroom OK?] You’d say this if you’re doing something and asking if it’s OK to do it in the bathroom.

I recently wrote a blog post on this actually! Rescheduling appointments without sounding like a jerk… 〜でも…?

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I feel that, this use case of でも is an abbreviated form of であっても。
(Note, I recognize there exist those uses of でも which do not fall into this category.)

So in here, もし時間がないなら、明日でもいいよ。 is an abbreviated (or colloquial) form of もし時間がないなら、明日であってもいいよ。 which translates to:

If no time, it is OK to be tomorrow.

Or something like that.


Please note that this is based on my recognition so when speaking in terms of Japanese strict grammar, it may not be precise.

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  • Is it possible for the inclusive particle も to go after the て form of a verb? Is it similar with verb + の/こと + も?
    – Dekiru
    Oct 9, 2016 at 7:59
  • @Dekiru Could you give me some example you have in mind? I currently don't understand what would be an example for "て form of a verb" would be like.
    – Yuki Inoue
    Oct 9, 2016 at 8:01
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    "て form of a verb"は「動詞のて形」、「走って」とか「食べて」とかの形です。多分、回答の「明日であっても」の「あって」が、動詞「ある」の「て形」だから、「動詞のて形のあとに「も」を使ってもいいの?それって「する+の+も」「する+こと+も」と似たもの?」って聞いておられるのだと思います。
    – Chocolate
    Oct 9, 2016 at 8:16
  • @Dekiru Now I understand your question. Thanks to chocolate. In short, for example, 「食べてもいいよ」 sounds valid Japanese, so I think answer would be yes. About verb + の/こと + も、 I'm not really sure. (Think that should be another question, IMHO..)
    – Yuki Inoue
    Oct 9, 2016 at 8:24
  • A:私は食べることが大好きだが、外に行くことも大好きのですよ。Is this 行くことも the same with 行っても? Can I replace the であって above with であること and still yield the same meaning? Because it seems that であって acts like a(n) noun/object. I have never seen the "て form of the verb" followed by も so I was surprised. Does A's statement here is grammatically correct, especially in deciding whether は or が is used?
    – Dekiru
    Oct 9, 2016 at 12:51

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