Take the sentence 「私は老人でもそんなことまだできるよ」. At first glance, I would translate this as "Even if I were an old person, I could still do those things", implying that I am not yet old.

But could I not also translate it as "Even though I am an old person, I can still do those things", implying that I am old? And if so, in this case I could replace it with のに or けれど etc., correct?

Another example: 「雨が降っても行く」 means "Even if it rains, I will go". If I changed it to 「雨が降っても行った」, does this now mean "Even though it rained, I went"?

1 Answer 1


If you're still young, this sentence should be 私老人でもそんなことできるよ because 私 is not the topic of the sentence.

If you're actually already old, usually you have to say 私は老人だけどそんなことまだできるよ.

Actually, でも is sometimes used to make a contrast between two things or facts, like けど or "even though". Here are examples taken from 明鏡国語辞典 第二版:

  • 表面は穏やかでも、内心は分からない。
    ≒ 表面は穏やかだけど、内心は分からない。
    (Even though he looks calm superficially...)
  • 昔は貧乏でも、今は裕福だ。
    ≒ 昔は貧乏だったけど、今は裕福だ。
    (Even though I was poor in the past...)

However this pattern is not directly applicable to your sentence. These sentences compare 表面 vs 内面, or 昔 vs 今, using two は. 私は老人でもそんなこと(は)できる sounds unnatural to me because you cannot directly compare 私 and そんなこと. Something like "年齢は70歳でも肉体は50歳だから、そんなことはまだできる" would be fine.

ても in 雨が降っても行った is plain "if". The sentence means "Even if it had rained, I would have gone (anyway)." This implies it did not rain in reality.

  • I'm still a little unclear on this. What should the translation of the OP's original sentence be? It's also not clear to me why in one of the OP's translations 私 can be the topic, but in the other, it cannot. Thanks. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 15:39
  • 2
    @user3856370 1) OP's original sentence is not a natural sentence in the first place. 2) 私が老人でも ("even if I were an old man") is a subordinate clause in a complex sentence, which means the topic marker is not appropriate. On the other hand, 私は老人だけど is one of the two independent clauses of a compound sentence.
    – naruto
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 16:19

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