According to jisho.org, だって has these meanings:

  1. after all; because
  2. but
  3. even
  4. too; as well; also
  5. they say; I hear; you mean

In my opinion, "because" and "but", and "as well" are completely different things. I understand that the actual meaning of だって is inferred by context, but having so many distinct meanings is kind of weird.

I know that だって is short for だという, which means roughly "[some pronoun] say". That is the meaning number 5 of だって.

How does "[some pronoun] say" turn into "because", "but" and "even" etc?

  • 1
    You're comparing three different だってs.
    – Angelos
    Feb 6 '17 at 13:25
  • @Nothingatall Which three? Can you explain more by posting an answer?
    – Sweeper
    Feb 6 '17 at 13:26
  • 3
    I'm not confident enough to post an answer, but i can tell you that 1 and 2 are one だって, 3 and 4 are another, and 5 is also another.
    – Angelos
    Feb 6 '17 at 13:34
  • 1
    It's not weird, its language.
    – James K
    Feb 6 '17 at 22:14
  • it is weird - its language.
    – frei
    Feb 7 '17 at 1:33

1 and 2 are conjunctive だって used at the beginning of a sentence.

  • 買わなかったよ。だって、高かったんだ。
    I didn't buy it. [After all / Because] it was expensive.
  • 「買えって言ったでしょう?」「だって、高かったんだ。」
    "Didn't I tell you to buy it?" "But it was expensive!"

This kind of だって is used to argue back, or to provide further explanation to convince someone. It's translated as "but" or "because" depending on the previous context. If you're not sure, something like "you know" or "well" should work.

3 and 4 are mid-sentence だって used after a noun to emphasize it.

  • 君だってできる。 Even you can do it. / You can do it, too.
  • お前だって見ただろう? You saw it, too, didn't you?

Definition 5 describes sentence-end だって. Sometimes it can sound mildly accusatory. In this case って is just a colloquial variant of the quotative と.

明日は雨だって。 [They say / I heard] it will rain tomorrow.

I don't know how だって is related to the verb 言う etymologically. だって is short enough and I don't feel it's worth analyzing this word too much.

  • Going back to the abbreviations, the different Japanese expressions they could abbreviate (using your numbers) are (1) だというのは (2) だというけれども (3,4) だというこそ (5) だといっているの Feb 6 '17 at 18:49
  • だって = だという・いわれている・だと言っていた
    – frei
    Feb 7 '17 at 2:35
  • 「君だってできる。」Does this だって add a sense of slight to the sentence?
    – Yeti Ape
    Jun 9 '18 at 14:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.