In an anime I heard the line


which was translated as "But we probably should head back. It's warmer inside". I know the ~ことは~ようが form, meaning "but" (like 「この薬は効くことは効くが、飲むと眠くなってしまう」), but I wasn't able to find the form with ようか, so I was wondering what's different: the AようがB form means "A, but B", while from that anime line AようかB seems to mean something like "But we should A, [since] B", but without having more examples it's just a wild guess.

Edit: The protagonists went outside to try a boomerang one of them gifted to the other; after trying it for a bit, one of them says the sentence I'm asking about, and starts heading inside.

Here I uploaded the audio, if anyone wants to check if I heard correctly.

Edit: more context: Adachi met Shimamura for the first time not long ago and they became friend; she's clearly in love with her, while at the moment Shimamura's feelings aren't so clear.

They spent Christmas together, then exchanged gifts: Adachi got a boomerang, so they head outside to try it. She isn't able to throw it very well (Shimamura's comment is いまいち), though she does some nice tries not having used one before, so Shimamura asks if she should buy something else and Adachi says she likes it. Then Shimamura acknowledges this (そう) and says the sentences I asked about.

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    I think you have heard it correctly. The voice actor is saying 戻ることは戻ろうか with the sound of Hi-hat. Nov 13, 2020 at 8:33
  • What do you mean with "Hi-hat"?
    – Mauro
    Nov 13, 2020 at 9:15
  • this one. The sound from symbol. Nov 13, 2020 at 9:16
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    You have transcribed it perfectly. However, without broader context, it is indeed difficult to imagine why she wanted to say something like this. Looks like it was ideal for her to stay outside for some reason, but I don't know what she is caring about. If you're still unsure, please share the title and the episode number. I can check it if it's available in Prime Video or dアニメ.
    – naruto
    Nov 14, 2020 at 2:37
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    @Mauro 一般論として、英語に変換して文脈を説明されるよりも、タイトルや原文を書いてくれる方が助かります。大抵の場合、質問する人が全く気づいていない文脈が隠れているので…。
    – naruto
    Nov 14, 2020 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


Actually there is no difference between your two examples (戻ることは戻る and 効くことは効く). This pattern is used when the speaker reluctantly admits this action, but wants to imply it is associated with something undesirable at the same time.

Note that the "undesirable" part may not be explicitly mentioned. In other words, this construction is usually used with が/けど, but that's not a requirement at all:

  • この薬は効くことは効く。
    This drug is "effective", at least.
    Well, this medicine does "work".
  • 中の方が暖かいので戻ることは戻ろう。
    It's warm inside so let's head back (although ...).
    We should head back at least cuz it's warm inside (but ...).

So 戻ることは戻ろうか means she has some other concern, but convinced herself to go inside anyway. For example, she may have wanted to stay outside because she was waiting for someone. Please check the context again.

A similar pattern exists with nouns and adjectives.

  • 彼はいい人はいい人ですよ。
    Well, I admit he is a "nice" person (but...).
  • まあ美味しいは美味しい。
    It is good in terms of taste (but...).

These imply there is something bad at the same time without explicitly saying が/でも.

EDIT: I checked the video. The actual conversations is as follows:


So this 戻ることは戻ろう means not "Let's get back anyway (although I want to stay)" but "Let's get back anyway (although we won't buy a new present)". Shimamura suggested 戻って and 何か別のを買おう, and Adachi said they don't have to, implying they can stay longer. Still, Shimamura read between the lines and said "At least, let's get back." After all, this type of は is the familiar contrastive-wa used when there is a contrast.

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    Ok, so if I understood this correctly they basically mean "A, although B", but in the medicine example B is present, while in the anime one it's implied, and the 中のほうが暖かいし isn't B, it's the reason for "戻ることは戻ろうか [although implied B]".
    – Mauro
    Nov 14, 2020 at 8:36
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    @Mauro Yes, exactly.
    – naruto
    Nov 14, 2020 at 8:59
  • Am I right in thinking that the form with か has a slightly more unsure/doubtful tone with respect the form without?
    – Mauro
    Nov 14, 2020 at 9:21
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    @Mauro I checked the video and the context was not what I initially imagined. It means "Let's get back anyway" here. I'll edit my answer later.
    – naruto
    Nov 14, 2020 at 9:29
  • I've been wondering if explaining this type of は as "(implication for) concession" rather than "contrast" is easier for English speakers to understand.
    – user4092
    Nov 15, 2020 at 2:29

In this context 戻ろうか means something like I want to (I thinking about) head back, how about you? or I want to head back but not sure, what do you think about it?. It pretty close to 戻ることは戻りますか, but 戻ろうか is using when we want to get some advice or acceptance. 戻るか (or 戻りますか) is own opinion/decision. I decided to head back, what about you?

Here is good explanation in Japanese.

I don't think that you should translate ~ことは~ようか as a monolithic construction. (But not sure about it)

Actually AことはBが、Cです may be splitted on three sub constructions:

Aことは → what about A B → action / meaning / explanation C → negative addition / disagreement


AことはBが、CですWhat (I think) about A, that is B, but C

この薬は効くことは効くが、飲むと眠い == この薬は、効くのは効くが、飲むと眠い == この薬は効くが、飲むと眠い ← same meaning

And I checked from Japanese friend,
He said that 戻ることは戻ろうか sounds strange. And he is don't understand meaning without context.

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    I don't think this is what the question is about. I'm pretty sure OP knows what volitional form is. They are asking about the pattern 戻ることは戻ろうか, not just 戻ろう.
    – Shurim
    Nov 13, 2020 at 1:08
  • @Shurim Yep. And I added edit about it. I'm not sure if there is present specific construction ~ことは~ようか in Japanese.
    – rzlvmp
    Nov 13, 2020 at 1:13
  • I added some context, and uploaded the audio if someone wants to check I heard correctly.
    – Mauro
    Nov 13, 2020 at 8:06

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