Consider the conjunction ども, e.g.:

  • 行けども

  • 言えども

Formation rule:

  • Verb Hypothetical form (仮定形) + ども

This leads me to hypothesise that the conjunction けれども (meaning "but; however; although") is built from けれ + ども.

I am unable to find a verb that is けれる. There is 蹴る though.

What is the composition of けれども? Or is it impossible to break it down further?

  • There is also the proverb 働けども、働けども、我が暮らし楽に成らず
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 9:02
  • 1
    @user1205935: That is not a proverb. I think that you are talking about a poem (tanka) by 石川啄木: はたらけど はたらけど[猶]{なほ}わが[生活]{くらし}楽にならざり ぢっと手を見る. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 1:16

1 Answer 1


As you have already discovered, -domo attaches to the hypothetical form (仮定形). Historically, this was known as realis (已然形). The kere here is the hypothetical / realis form of -keri. -keri is an obsolete suffix (助動詞) which expresses hearsay recollection.

-keri itself may be further split apart as a contraction of -ki ari, where -ki is another obsolete recollectional suffix and ari is the verb ar-i "to be".

While simple and imprecise, you may think of -keri as past tense. You may still find remnants of it in expressions such as "dakke".

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    Actually, Daijirin says the けれ element from conjugation of adjectives, not the auxiliary verb けり.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 11:07
  • @ZhenLin Thanks for the report. However, I said nothing about Daijirin, which I agree with. Though that keredomo is a different word than the -keredomo that I was describing. See for example 竹取物語: 「かぐや姫を見まほしうして、物も食はず思ひつゝ、かの家に行きてたたずみありき_けれども_、かひあるべくもあらず」 www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~Taiju/taketori.htm I suppose the question should define what けれども they intend.
    – Dono
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 11:31
  • Off topic: “The kere here is…”: I first read this as /kɪər hɪər/ and wondered what “kere” means, then I realized my mistake. I wonder if anyone read it as けれへれ. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 12:47
  • @Dono. "Though that keredomo is a different word than the -keredomo that I was describing". There are two different keredomo ?
    – Flaw
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 13:29
  • @Flaw Yes, with different meanings and different etymologies. One I described above and gave an example, the other Zhen links to Daijirin. Please clarify what けれども you would like an answer to.
    – Dono
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 22:41

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