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I'm wondering about the difference between も and でも for their "even" meaning.

Using example sentences from A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar,

私は難しい仕事でもする。(original, pg 112)

私は難しい仕事する。(swapped for も)

and

私はこんな難しい漢字読める。(original, pg 250)

私はこんな難しい漢字でも読める。(swapped for でも)

Are the swapped sentences grammatically correct? If so, is there a difference in nuance?

  • 6
    I can't give a good answer, but depending on context も might translate more naturally as 'also' in your examples, but でも would always mean 'even'. – user3856370 Jan 7 '18 at 9:18
  • That could indeed be a valid translation. However, the grammar dictionary I took these sentences from distinguishes between the "also" も and the "even" も. The "even" も is specifically used in the sentence 私はこんな難しい漢字も読める, with the translation I can read even difficult kanji like this (pg 250). So assuming these are accurate, my question is whether でも can be substituted in without a change in meaning. – kennysong Jan 7 '18 at 22:18
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    I would think it's possible to not change the meaning but it does however change the nuance. Not 100% certain, but it's my (maybe mistaken) understanding that using も implies a standard "as well" whereas でも implies an "as well" with the tone of "against the odds". So, 私は難しい仕事でもする -> "I will even do difficult jobs", whereas 私は難しい仕事もする -> "I will also do difficult jobs" – psosuna Jan 9 '18 at 0:02
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+100

There is a difference in nuance. でも implies that "normally it isn't but in this case it is".

私は難しい仕事でもする。

This implies that 通常私は簡単な仕事しかしないが・・・実は難しい仕事でもするよ。(I normally do only easy jobs, but actually I can also do difficult ones.)

私は難しい仕事する。

This implies that the person speaking normally does easy, (moderate), and difficult jobs. No emphasis is given that s/he "can also" do difficult jobs. S/he has always done them too.

Let's use another example:

この映画は小さな子どもでも楽しめる。

Movies like this are normally perceived to be only enjoyable for a certain age group, e.g. teens and above. However, this particular one is actually enjoyable also for little kids, like toddlers, pre-schoolers, grade school kids, etc.

この映画は小さな子ども楽しめる。

This movie is enjoyable also for little kids, and nothing is special about it. It has always been like that.

3

I am not quite sure whether this is a general answer but as for the two examples, they are both gramattically correct while there is a slight difference in nuance. でも is more a "even if", while も is "even/also"

examples:

私は難しい仕事でもする。

"I will do any job EVEN IF it was difficult."

私は難しい仕事もする。

"(I will do easy jobs) AND ALSO difficult jobs."

Note that でも is a short form of であっても or であったとしても at least for these two sentences.

-1

Yes, they are grammatically correct, and yes the nuance is different.

「も」implies that there is a list, and that the stated item is just one item in that list.「でも」could refer to the item in isolation. So in the example sentences:


私は難しい仕事でもする

Even if the work is difficult I'll do it.

(This sentence implies that there is difficult work, but that there may not be any easy work.)

私は難しい仕事もする。

I'll do difficult work as well.

(This sentence implies that there is both difficult work and easy work.)


私はこんな難しい漢字も読める。

I can also read difficult kanji.

(This sentence implies that there are both difficult kanji and easy kanji. For example: a newspaper article.)

私はこんな難しい漢字でも読める。

Even if the kanji is difficult I can even read it.

(This sentence implies that there are difficult kanji, but that there may not be any easy kanji. For example: classical Japanese texts.)


These interpretations are supported by the following unofficial sources:

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