How do I express the these ideas in Japanese while listing things?

For example, how should these sentences be translated into Japanese while carrying the same tone?

  1. He has a scary face but a heart of gold.
  2. She's very quiet but also very direct.
  3. I was doing my best, and yet I also wanted to give up.
  4. I'm excited yet vigilant about the future.
  5. You'll have to do it carefully but fast.

Japanese has a wide variety of phrases that show one sentence relates to the last. For lack of a better term, I'm going to call these words Sentence-Initial Conjunctions.

  • Demo, equivalent to "however" or "but, which is used when the speaker is giving information that shows a contrast to the previous sentence.

****As it is said that no matter how much good things you complement about someone.....if There is a "BUT", everything goes down to drain......so "BUT is a bit of Poison"***

In the your Examples: 1)He has a scary face but a heart of gold. Japanese Translation : Kare wa kowai kao o shite iruga, yoi kokoro o motte iru.

As the tone of contrast from the first part of the sentence completely changes after you say "but" likewise the tone of contrast changes after you say "iruga", here "iru" means "has" and in Japanese grammar the word "ga" is attached with the last word of the first part of the sentence as way of differentiating it from the second part of the sentence.

2)She's very quiet but also very direct. ->Translation: Kanojo wa totemo shizukadesuga, mata hijō ni chokusetsutekidesu.

The word "ga" in "Desuga" is the contrasting word here or "BUT".......when you speak the sentence, it will naturally carry the same tone when you speak Japanese fluently.....It will slightly vary a bit because of the Japanese accent.....but the Japanese people will get the tone u are trying to convey. There is a certain pause of 1 second after the part "She's very quiet" .......then comes the next part "but also very direct". This is the tone we use in English. In case of Japanese.....There is a pause after the syllable "Ga" in the word "Shizukadesuga" which when comparing with English the 1 second pause would be after saying "But" in case of Japanese. But the despite the slight variation in tone, Japanese native speakers will get the contrasting tone like the one we have in English.

3) I was doing my best, and yet I also wanted to give up. ->Translation: Watashi wa saizen o tsukushite itaga, soredemo watashi wa akirametai to omotta.

As you can see here as well, there is "ga" in the word "itaga"......ga is used as a context to contrast between two parts of the same sentence....... and naturally there will always be a pause after it and the contrasting word "soredemo" or ("and still"/"But still") comes later .......like the small gap we have after the word "best"

4) I am very happy yet not satisfied. ->Translation: Watashi wa totemo manzoku shite iruga manzoku shite inai.

Its the same thing here too.......the pause is right after "ga" in the word "iruga" which is "yet" in the sentence. Note: For most of the contrasting sentence, according to Japanese Grammar we use "ga" for but, yet etc.

Hope this info helped you out.......you can try listening to contrasting sentence in Japanese Audio Books online to help you better understand the tone and the pause in the sentences.

  • Hmm, I see you translated a lot of the example sentences by breaking the lists into separate clauses. For example, the 1st one lists two nouns ("face" and "heart"), the 2nd and 4th one list adjectives and the 5th one lists adverbs. Is it possible to list them while contrasting them like in English, or do they have to be broken into separate clauses? That said, that それでも in the 3rd one is actually a very helpful notion! Thank you very much! :> – Ranquil Jun 18 at 15:40
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    Hey, thanks for your first post -- welcome to the community! This answer is in-depth, and answers the question asked, so well done! :) Your explanations could I think be a little clearer/briefer though, so maybe consider what sort of information you really need to include when answering a question. I think, in particular, if you can, writing in Japanese script rather than Romaji would be helpful for clarity. – henreetee Jun 18 at 15:45
  • @Ranquil Yes it is possible to list them while contrasting......but you have to learn the native accent for it....otherwise you will have a different tone like all foreigners do even if your sentences are correct........it all depends on how well you speak!! – Ngangom Maximus Jun 18 at 16:23
  • @henreetee Your welcome......sure i will do my best!!! – Ngangom Maximus Jun 18 at 16:23
  • I see. What kind of grammar should I use for that then? :> – Ranquil Jun 18 at 16:27

I think what in many cases also among your examples make a difference is how strongly one wants to emphasize the contrast, at first, how I would "guess" them:

In 1. I guess the sense of contrast is quite strong; one might not bother to make the statement just because someone looks scary, or just because someone is nice, but only because they came as a set.

In 3-5, I think the sense of contrast is a lot weaker, i.e. just saying "one half" is still meaningful enough.

Giving the above, I would probably use:

  1. ...なのに... (Big contrast; なのに may be best translated as despite / even though)
  2. (May need more rephrasing, instead of using quiet, I would say something like) だいたい黙っていますが言う時ははっきり(を?)言う。
  3. ...ながら(あきらめ)ようと思った (weak contract, could be translates as while ...ing)
  4. ...が... (weak contrast, between "but" and "and")
  5. Probably the toughest and depends also on the context, but maybe ても/でも, something like 早くてもていねいにしないと

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