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I encountered this sentence in my Anki app:

彼は目が見えずとも素晴らしい演奏をしました。

Although the grammar point is fairly simple, I have never encountered ずとも outside my grammar reviews. I also think that なくても can do the same job.

彼は目が見えなくても素晴らしい演奏をしました。

What is the difference between the two grammar points? How often and where usually is ずとも encountered?

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According to this JLPT study site, the two are basically interchangeable in terms of meaning. As for how common they are, I searched for both terms on BCCWJ. なくても had around 10,000 entries whereas ずとも only had around 500. ずとも is somewhat formal sounding and it may only be used in written Japanese or formal styles of language.

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  • 毎日のんびり日本語教師 is one of my favorite sites, thank you. Thank you also for the initiative of checking the corpus. I'm just wondering, with ずとも showing up 20x less frequenty than なくても, have you encountered ずとも in real life? – rebuuilt Jul 21 at 22:18
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    I can't honestly remember encountering it. The old negative form ず isn't that common these days and has mostly been replaced with standard ない forms. Maybe that's why you don't see it much. It's probably one of those things which you have to study for a test but rarely see in real life. – kandyman Jul 21 at 22:21
  • I guess so, something like a good-to-know grammar point. – rebuuilt Jul 21 at 22:28
  • ずとも is perhaps "literary" rather than "formal". – naruto Jul 22 at 2:31
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    @rebuuilt It's widely used in written language. In speech, samurai and ninja are indeed typical users of this, but noble or arrogant characters in sci-fi works can use it naturally, too. – naruto Jul 22 at 3:54

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