I am studying the use of "て・でもいいですか”, but the meaning of this sentences is not obvious to me : コーヒーがないんですがお茶でもいいですか。

Does it means "I don't have coffee, can I have tea ?" (asking for a permission) or "There is no coffee, but would like tea ?" (offering a suggestion) ?

Does the "て・でもいいですか" means not only the permission asking but also the suggestion ?

  • "I don't have coffee, can I have tea ?" would be a rather strange thing to say wouldn't it? Feb 12, 2021 at 16:22
  • I'm not sure I would consider the "permission" grammar point of [verb in て form]+も+いい to be the same as this use of [particle で]+も+いい. The question seems to assume they are the same.
    – Leebo
    Feb 13, 2021 at 3:31
  • Indeed you pointed out exactly my confusion, I assume they are the same but it seems that there is a different rule I don’t really grasp. For example if I say “冷たくてもいいですか" does it means « is it ok if it’s cold ? » (I imagine a waiter proposing a cold tea in place of an unavailable hot tea).
    – Poulp
    Feb 13, 2021 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


I think I've understood your confusion. When you say "I don't have coffee, can I have tea ?" are you thinking that the first 'have' would be equivalent to "I don't drink/take coffee"? Perhaps my understanding was biased by having read the Japanese sentence first, but I think this would be quite a confusing thing to say even in English.

ない doesn't have that meaning. It denotes existence or possession. So the only reasonable interpretation of this sentence is "I don't have coffee. Will tea be okay?".

  • Thanks for your reply, indeed, the first translation is totally unnatural, and I wanted to say that the possible interpretation fo this Japanese sentence could be "I don't have coffee anymore, but can I have tea ? ". Obviously "I don't have coffee. Will tea be okay?" seems the more logical interpretation, but in my current state of Japanese knowledge "てもいいです” is only for asking permission not make a suggestion. So you just learn me a new way to use this pattern :)
    – Poulp
    Feb 12, 2021 at 17:17

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