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I can't really understand the difference between はともかくとして and はさておき. They both seem to have a similar meaning and use. Somebody could explain it to me, by using specific examples?

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ともかくとして

ともかく can most of the time be understood as "anyway", and とする basically means "to make X be X" (the meaning is close to にする). So you can think of それはともかくとして as "making それ be anyway (irrelevant)" => "regardless of それ".

さておき

さておき comes from the verb 扨置く or 扨措く which literally means "to put aside". So さておき can be understood as "putting aside, ...".

Both phrases pretty much mean the same thing, but ともかくとして carries a nuance of "carelessness" in my opinion.

  • Thank you for your answer! I see, they have different nuances, but I still don't understand if they can be used interchangeably? Maybe one is more used in daily conversation, whilst the other is more suitable for writing? – Alex16 May 16 '18 at 13:00
  • @Alex16 Yes they can be used interchangeably since they pretty much mean the same thing. And I think it depends on one's way of speaking really. I feel like they're used just like "putting aside". But I wouldn't use them if I just meant something like "anyway" in English, they're not words that you use when speaking casually with your friends or family – Breton Loïc May 17 '18 at 5:04
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Breton's post is incorrect. ともかく, though sometimes used in conversation to mean what he suggests, is more general than he understands and it definitely doesn't imply "carelessness" . Although はともかく and はさておき have similar overall meanings of "let's focus on some other aspect", there is a very distinct difference in nuance. There are places where either can be used, but there are places where one makes way more sense over the other.

N+はともかく、~ means that N might be true, but it doesn't really matter compared to ~. Take for example:

その歌手、顔はともかく、歌うのがうまいよ。

That singer, say what you want about his face, but he can sing!

This implies that the speaker recognizes that the singer's face might be ugly, but he would rather focus on the singer's voice.

N+はさておき、~ means more "setting aside N, let's look at ~" (though ~ might still be important, it just isn't as big a priority). For example:

どんな家がいいかはさておき、どんな地域に引っ越したいかを考えよ。

Leaving aside what kind of house would be good, think about what kind of area you want to move to.

This implies that what kind of house is good DOES matter (unlike in はともかく), and after you decided something else we might return to this question, but the priority first is what area you want to move to.

Let's use an example to highlight further the nuance:

料理は見た目はともかく、おいしい。

Appearances aside, the food's delicious. (you are giving a value judgement, you're admitting the food looks bad but that doesn't matter compared to how delicious it is).

料理は見た目はさておき、おいしい。

Set aside appearance (for now), the food is delicious. (you're a food critic, you're judging the taste and will come back to how it looks; you are not giving a value on how it looks just stating you are not considering it now)

Overall then, はさておき deals more with priority, and here's where the idea of "setting aside" comes in. You set something aside to come back to it later. You don't think it's unimportant. はともかく deals more with focus and importance. Compared to some quality, another is not such a big deal.

  • So もさることながら, would be the more formal way of はともかくとして or of はさておき? – Alex16 Jul 15 '18 at 12:35

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