3

残念でもしかたない。
Even bad luck can't be helped.

I know でも to mean either 'even..', '..or something', or as separate particles で+も. None of these interpretations really seem to fit here.

I'm tempted to go for the で+も option: "it's bad luck and it can't be helped". But then I still don't understand what to do with the も.

  • I don't think it's very natural Japanese without any context. Where did you find it? – broccoli forest May 16 '17 at 10:01
  • It's very natural Japanese. without context. Though, of course, you don't know what s/he is regretful by this sentence alone. – someone May 16 '17 at 12:31
5

In order to know how to understand it here, you have to understand the function of the words that are being used in the first place.

「残念」 here acts as an adjective. How can you figure it out? Well you have to ask yourself those questions:

1) How is it?

2) What is it?

And try to answer them yourself. You will see that the answer to the first question is an adjective, and the answer to the second question is a noun.

So in your sentence, if we assume that 「残念」 acts as a noun, then the following 「で」 is without doubt the 連用形 of the 助動詞 (auxiliary verb) 「だ」. As for 「も」 you already know the meaning. So we could interpret it as following:

残念でもしかたない。 : Even if/though it is a regret, it can't be helped.

However, if we assume that 「残念」acts as an adjective, which is the most likely, then 「で」 is the 連用形 of what we call a 活用語尾 (conjugative suffix). Also, an adjective is a qualifier which is used to describe something, so the way you translate a noun and an adjective will obviously be different. Anyway, you could interpret your sentence as following:

残念でもしかたない。 : Even if/though it is unfortunate, it can't be helped.

The difference may be small, but you can clearly notice how the second interpretation makes much more sense.

3

I'd like to have a better sense of the context of this sentence but as it is it seems like the speaker is telling the listener something more like

I'm sorry to say it but it can't be helped

or

It's unfortunate but can't be helped (despite one's efforts)

In that case the でも would take on the meaning of "even" or "but".

1

残念でもしかたない。

I know でも to mean either 'even..', '..or something', or as separate particles で+も. None of these interpretations really seem to fit here.

You can construe this construction as:

残念で(ある) (I'm/It's) regretful

も but

仕方(が)ない (there) is nothing/no way (I can do).

It's regretful, but it can't be helped.

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