This quesion:

と言っても vs とは言え .

reminded me of a similar case:

どっちにしても vs どっちにしろ

which are also synonymous as far as I can tell.

That got me thinking:

Is this coincidental? Are there other cases where the imperative is used instead of the conditional formulation? Has this replacement ever been productive?

  • 3
    – Gradius
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 7:24
  • 1
    Sometimes I wonder if it's a translation of the subjunctive construction in European languages – "be that as it may" etc.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 11:59
  • @Gradius, thanks, very interesting, 放任法. Didn't know that word, now I have something to google for. And yes, I completely forgot to think about imperatives of adjectives, like 遅かれ早かれ.
    – dainichi
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 21:53
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    @ZhenLin, basing this only on my gut feeling, I would think it's a similar parallel phenomenon going on in both spheres, rather than a translation... there definitely seems to be something going on with conditionals <-> subjunctives <-> imperatives. Maybe a good question for linguistics.stackexchange.com
    – dainichi
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 21:58

3 Answers 3


This is a remnant of the Classical Japanese form named 「[命令形]{めいれいけい}の[放任法]{ほうにんほう}」. 命令形 means "imperative form", 放任、”noninterference”, "permission", etc. and 法, "rule".

Native speakers, young or old, still use the 命令形の放任法 on a daily basis, but very few Japanese-learners seem to be able use it actively.

In short, the nuance of this form is "Do as you like." 「どっちにしろ(or せよ)」 means "whichever you take/choose" and the speaker could not care less which one someone selects.

  • 2
    – Robin
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 9:18
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    @Ash でしょ~~!何回も言ってるのにねえ~~ 思いつかないなら、とりあえず、「H回答者」とか←おい
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 12:49

とは言え and どっちにしろ are not imperative(命令形).

どっちにしても vs どっちにしろ

どっち is an informal way to say どちら. どちらにしても is どちらに(したと)しても. どちらにしろ is どちらにすれども. Similarly, とは言え is とは言えども.

  • When I look up 雖も, my dictionary says 注意 「言えども」と書き誤らないように。 Is it okay to write it that way?
    – user1478
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 8:53
  • I don't see a problem to write 言えども as the this dictionary also does. dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/154751/m0u To be safe, you should use 雖も or いえども in a formal situation.
    – Teno
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 9:07
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    Although I can see how 言えども would become 言え, why would すれども become しろ? Whether it's semantically 命令形 or not, I don't know, but it seems that in form it is the same as 命令形.
    – dainichi
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 7:41
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    @Teno, I must also disagree with you. と言え might be parsed as being in the 已然形 (izenkei, realis form), but にしろ is clearly in the 命令形 (meireikei, imperative form), as further demonstrated by the parallel construction にせよ, using the older-fashioned せよ imperative form of する. It might be possible that this modern usage of the imperative grew out of an older pattern using the realis, but as far as modern Japanese goes, this construction does indeed use the imperative. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:04

What about ~であれ~であれ and ~といい~といい?

Oh, there's also ~にせよ~にせよ, but it's just a more 堅い version of ~にしろ~にしろ (which in turn is more 堅い than ~にしても~にしても)

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