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The difference between Verbても and Verbてでも was discussed in a thread here but I felt it wasn't fully clarified there. This difference is rarely mentioned in textbooks, as far as I can tell. So I thought it should be explored a little more. Maybe we can clarify how the English translations would differ between these two sentences.

1: 体を張ってでも反対する。
2: 体を張っても反対する。

I am assuming that using でも introduces a weakening of volition, ie "even if I do something like risking my life", as opposed to a more definite "even I risk my life". But perhaps there is a more subtle nuance. How would you translate these sentences to highlight the distinction?

  • I can't vouch for the accuracy of this, but my grammar book (A handbook of Japanese Grammar patterns for Teachers and Learners -- Group Jammassy) says of てでも: "Used to indicate tough measures for dealing with a situation. Accompanied by expressions of strong intent or desire, it conveys a determination to accomplish something even by employing extreme measures". This seems to fit with your example sentence at least. – user3856370 May 18 at 12:16
  • That also fits another source I found: "体を張ってでも守ってやるという覚悟が必要です。" – kandyman May 18 at 14:31
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体を張ってでも反対する means that the one who 体を張る is identical to the one who 反対する while 体を張っても反対する means that those two are different.

  • 体を張ってでも反対する: I would rather risk my own body to oppose it.

  • 体を張っても反対する: I oppose it even if you risk your own body.

Edit:

couldn't 体を張っても反対する be interpreted as "even if I risk my life (body)"?

Practically yes, but that sounds slip of saying てでも, after all.

It's not that you can't bridge clauses by the same agant with ても. (edit) For example, you can say 図書館に行っても本を読まない. However, you can't link actions that share the same orientation, in other words, direction of volition (will) with paradoxical conjunction ても.

So, you have to remove volitional element from the verb in the clause with ても by changing it to a subjunctive mood, i.e. 体を張る → 体を張ることになる, as a whole, 体を張ることになっても, which is almost the same as てでも.

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    couldn't 体を張っても反対する be interpreted as "even if I risk my life (body)"? Something like 維持でも which the speaker can use to refer to his own actions. – kandyman May 18 at 11:52
  • ↑ I hate to be that guy but 維持でも → 意地でも. And I agree with kandyman in that both are used in this way, although I feel the second one should not be used in this sense at all (regardless of who is speaking) from a strict grammatical point of view. – VVayfarer May 18 at 12:08
  • In that case, what would be the appropriate way to express "Even if I risk my life, I will oppose you" using the て form? Or is it just unnatural to express it that way. – kandyman May 18 at 12:21
  • @kandyman The てでも form. I can't find any good source on this, but I believe the second one is mostly colloquial (or at least it was originally). – VVayfarer May 18 at 13:52
  • It might be colloquial, I'm not sure. However the sources I found in a few corpora were often older texts from the 1920s and 1930s. So perhaps this is a somewhat outdated phrase. I was curious as to whether there was a different nuance between the two. – kandyman May 18 at 14:28

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