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もっとも + が

Davide92

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Hi guys! So, I found these two sentences in my grammar book (I'm also including the translations they provide):

1) それは正しいだろう。もっとも大したことではないが。It may be true. However, it does not count much.
2) 彼はよく働く。もっとも能力もあるが。He works hard. And, in fact, he is competent.

-As far as I understand, もっとも expresses contrast in 1) (though, however), and this contrast is reinforced by が. Is this correct?

- H0w should I interpret もっとも in 2) ? It doesn't seem to be contrast, yet が is present here as well - a particle I'm used to associate with contrast, or background information/preliminary remarks.

Many thanks.
 

raikado

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The translation for the second sentence might be misleading. The intended meaning is "He works hard. Although, to be fair, he's also got the skill for it." You can look at some other examples from もっともを英語で訳す - goo辞書 英和和英.
2 〔ただし,そうは言うものの〕
彼は力が強い.もっとも体も大きいがね
He is strong, but then he is big, too.

女性にはこの仕事はできない.もっとも例外はあるが
Women cannot do this job, though (of course) there are some exceptions.

彼女は英語が上手だ.もっともアメリカ育ちだからね
She speaks good English ─ though in fact it's only natural since she grew up in the United States.
 

Fufu

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Hi, Davide92!

I'd like to comment not from a gramatical viewpoint but from that of a native Japanese speaker.
もっとも expresses contrast in 1) (though, however), and this contrast is reinforced by が. Is this correct?
We can understand the sentence even if もっとも is not included:
> それは正しいだろう。大したことではないが/けど。
Hence, が is essential, not もっとも, to understand that the speaker intends to weaken the aforementioned opinion.

If we hear もっとも or something like that before the second sentence, we become ready for the speaker adding something to make his/her statement not absolute, not so surprising, etc.:
> それは正しいだろう。もっとも/と言っても/ただ/まあ/、大したことではないが/けど。
- How should I interpret もっとも in 2) ? It doesn't seem to be contrast...
The second example sentences seem not appropriate for learning. So don't mind at all its difficulty to understand gramatically. It seems more helpful to find other examples in context.

At least that is my understanding as a Japanese speaker, though I'm not familiar with grammar. I hope it helps you lean Japanese language.
 

joadbres

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I'd like to comment not from a gramatical viewpoint but from that of a native Japanese speaker.

Your comment is very useful and helpful. It is interesting to learn some aspects of the Japanese language from your point of view.

Thank you for contributing to the forum. I hope you are able to contribute in the future,
 

Fufu

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I noticed that I made a mistake. Let me correct it. I commented basically by first impressions as
Hence, が is essential, not もっとも, to understand that the speaker intends to weaken the aforementioned opinion.
But this part is not true because in practice, we can understand the following example without any strangeness:
> それは正しいだろう。[もっとも/と言っても/ただ/まあ/ただまあ/まあでも] 大したことではない。
Here, が is excluded. Either もっとも or が is omissible. I guess the reason is that as I mentioned in the last comment, we can understand the speaker's intention at the time we hear もっとも.

Since I use Japanese language based on my experience and so have rarely paid attention to the usage, I couldn't cover all the cases.
 

Davide92

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Welcome to the forum Fufu-san, and thank you for your help. It does help me learn Japanese. It seems like there are many possible alternatives to もっとも. I didn't know that.
 

Fufu

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I think I haven't yet answered your first question clearly, Davide92-san.

You may still wonder if both もっとも and が were present, the statement became stronger. But it's not true. Whether we use both もっとも and が in the same sentence or not is just a kind of wording. I'm not sure whether my English, usage of 'wording', is correct, but anyway, I think almost all the Japanese people don't feel が is reinforcing もっとも.

there are many possible alternatives to もっとも.
FYI, alternatives I suggested are used in daily conversation. Good luck!
 

Davide92

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I see, so が .doesn't make もっとも stronger. You did mention "weaken the aforementioned opinion" and "adding something to make his/her statement not absolute, not so surprising, etc."... I suppose this usage of が is similar to the が in such sentenes as 駅に行きたいんですが ?

Good luck!
Thanks :D
 

Toritoribe

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The basic usage of もっとも is to supplement a partial objection or exception to the preceding statement, so it's often used with が for adversative conjunction. In other words, this expression is a kind of inversion (e.g. 大したことではないが、正しいだろう).
On the other hand, が is used to show that the sentence still continues, and the following part is omitted in your example above, thus, the full sentence is something like 駅に行きたいんですが、道順を教えていただけませんか "I want to go to the station, so...(can you tell me how I can get there?)". This が is for introducing the main clause, not for adversative conjunction, and the softening nuance is provided by avoiding mentioning the question/request directly, so the functions are different between the two が.
 

Fufu

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It seems that Toritoribe-san's explanation is efficient, so that the following might be unnecessary, but please let me add some. I hope this doesn't make you more confused.

The basic usage of もっとも is to supplement a partial objection...
I tried to tell above to Davide92-san but maybe failed because of my poor skill.

I'd like to explain step-by-step. Suppose that I have two opinions when someone asks me what I think about something:
- It does not count much.
- It may be true.
These are rendered to Japanse as
- 大したことではない。
- 正しいだろう。

To make sense, I need connect them. Let me assume the former is a sub-statement and the latter is main. Then,
(1) それは大したことではないが、正しいだろう。
(Although it does not count much, it may be true.)
This is the example Toritoribe-san wrote. (1) has a different nuance from
(2) それは正しいだろうが、大したことではない。
(Although it may be true, it does not count much.)
because in this case it sounds like 大したことではない is main.

In an actual conversation, of course there is a situation I say the main statement at first and then I want to add something negative as a supplement after:
(3) それは正しいだろう。大したことではないが。
(It may be true. It does not count much, though.)
This is just inversion of (1) as Toritoribe-san mentioned and makes sense enough. (This looks like (2) but the position of conjunction が is different.)

Now, if I say もっとも/と言っても/ただ/etc. after the main statement, the listener becomes ready for a negative supplement following.
(4) それは正しいだろう。もっとも、大したことではないが。
This works well even if I don't say が as I mentioned.

It may be possible to render (4) to English as written in Davide92-san's textbook:
It may be true. However, it does not count much.
in the sense that this expresses that right after the main sentence we notice a negative sentence follows.
 

Davide92

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Toritoribe-san, Fufu-san, sorry for taking so long. I've been busy and didn't want to reply hastily. What you wrote is mostly new information for me, and very interesting.

Thanks for your help.

On the other hand, が is used to show that the sentence still continues, and the following part is omitted in your example above, thus, the full sentence is something like 駅に行きたいんですが、道順を教えていただけませんか "I want to go to the station, so...(can you tell me how I can get there?)". This が is for introducing the main clause, not for adversative conjunction, and the softening nuance is provided by avoiding mentioning the question/request directly, so the functions are different between the two が.

I see... quite different usages indeed.

Fufu-san, if I compare 1) and 2):

(1) それは大したことではないが、正しいだろう。
(2) それは正しいだろうが、大したことではない。

I think I can see the 'different nuance' you mentioned. Because both in sentence (1) and in sentence (2) the main clause is in the second position, that clause sounds more important than the clause in the first position. So in (2) the speaker emphasises more the fact that it's not really important.

but maybe failed because of my poor skill.

Maybe I'm the one who failed in understanding...I love grammar but I'm not very good at it...

As for (3) それは正しいだろう。大したことではないが。, it is closer to (1) or (2) in terms of nuance? In other words, which is more important, the fact that it may be true (as in 1) or the fact that it's not important (as in 2) ?

Finally, from what I understand (4) has basically the same nuance as (3)... please correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Toritoribe

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As for (3) それは正しいだろう。大したことではないが。, it is closer to (1) or (2) in terms of nuance? In other words, which is more important, the fact that it may be true (as in 1) or the fact that it's not important (as in 2) ?
As I wrote above, it's an inversion of #1, so the main clause is それは正しいだろう.

from what I understand (4) has basically the same nuance as (3).
Yes, that's right.(y)
 
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