When looking it up on the internet I find that とは限らない means 「イメージと違って、100%~と言えないという意味」. But the problem is I also get similar meanings for とも限らない.

I've asked a Japanese speaker about it and they gave the answer below:



B:「早く日本に行くことが良いとも限らないよ。(いまここでしっかり基礎を学ぶことも大切かもしれないし、 日本で生活するための準備をきちんとすることも重要だよ。)」

Based on the answer he gave me, I still don't get the difference. They both seem the same but I know there has to be a difference.


とはいえない and ともいえない are interchangeable, but the latter sounds a little milder and indirect. This usage of も is described on 明鏡国語辞典 as the twelfth definition:

(12) さりげなくとりたてて、文意をやわらげる。
(ア) 《多く、文末表現に使って》一歩引く気持ちで、その判断をやわらげる。


一歩引く気持ち (literally "take-a-step-back feeling") is a confusing explanation, but anyway this も adds an extra nuance of admitting, concession, euphemism, etc. Perhaps an English word that has a similar role is an interjection 'well' as in "Well, you can say that, but..." or "They were, well, not quite good." They are perfectly grammatical without 'well', but they sound a little milder, "nuanced" or "deep" with it.

I think the native speaker you asked explained like that because they wanted to say this も has such a "nuance". But this role of も may be difficult to grasp if you try to analyze it as an extension of 'also' too much. In this case, I think this も in とも限らない can be translated as "you know" or "well" (if it needs to be translated).

By the way, this usage of も is explained in the dictionary next to this も. And this question is also loosely related.


From that person's answer, it seems that とも implies other things as well.

I want to hurry and go to Japan to study. The とも version that rushing to japan is not necessarily a good thing, and implies other things like, you should focus on studying Japanese here and now, or prepare to live in Japan"?

It adds implications.

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