ことは Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Phrase
Essential Meaning: Speaking of X, X is indeed true. (However….) / X is indeed the case. (But…)
- Verb 1 informal +ことは + Verb 1
- E.g. 話すことは話す [When it comes to speaking, it’s indeed true that X speaks. But…]
- E.g. 話したことは話した [When it comes to having eaten, it’s indeed true that X ate. But…]
- い-Adjective 1 informal +ことは + い-Adjective 1
- E.g. 高いことは高い [When it comes to being expensive, it’s indeed true that X is expensive. But…]
- E.g. 高かったことは高かった [When it comes to having been expensive, it’s indeed true that X was expensive. But…]
- な-Adjective Stem 1 + [な / だった] + ことは + な-Adjective Stem 1 + [だ / だった]
- E.g. 静かなことは静かだ [When it comes to being quiet, it’s indeed true that X is quiet. But…]
- E.g. 静かだったことは静かだった [When it comes to having been quiet, it’s indeed true that X was quiet. But…]
- Noun 1 + は + Noun 2 + だ
- E.g. いい人はいい人だ [When it comes to being a good person, it’s indeed true that X is a good person. But…]
- Noun 1 + だったことは + Noun 1 + だった
- E.g. いい人だったことはいい人だった [When it comes to having been a good person, it’s indeed true that X was a good person. But…]
- ことは is a clunky, idiomatic grammatical structure that roughly translates to “Speaking of X, X is indeed the case. However, Y is also the case.” or “X is indeed the case. However, Y.” In other words, given that Proposition X is the case, the fact that Proposition Y is also the case is somehow surprising or noteworthy. Note that the ことは structure is typically paired with the disjunctive conjunction が.
- E.g. 私はテニスをすることはするが上手じゃない。[It is indeed true that I play tennis, but I am not any good.]
- When the main verb or adjective is in the past tense, the “interior” verb / adjective / noun can optionally take the nonpast tense. This is common in colloquial language. Also, the interior verb / adjective / noun typical takes an informal form even if the main verb is formal.
- E.g. ボストンシンフォニーの切符は買えたことは買えましたが大変悪い席でした。[I indeed could buy tickets to the Boston Symphony, but the seats were really bad.] Note that the interior verb 買えた [Could buy] is informal, while the main verb 買えました [Could buy] is formal. This is acceptable.
- E.g. ボストンシンフォニーの切符は買えることは買えましたが大変悪い席でした。[I indeed could buy tickets to the Boston Symphony, but the seats were really bad.] In this case, the interior 買える [Can buy] is both informal and in the nonpast tense, while the main 買えました [Could buy] is past tense and formal. This is also acceptable, and slightly more colloquial than the preceding example.
- E.g. 今日の試験は難しかったことは難しかったがよくできた。[Today’s test was indeed difficult, but I did well.] In this example, both the interior and main adjective match in both tense and formality.
- E.g. 今日の試験は難しいことは難しかったがよくできた。[Today’s test was indeed difficult, but I did well.] In this example, the interior adjective is nonpast, while the main adjective is in the past tense. This is marginally more colloquial than the preceding example.
- In addition to が, this structure may be followed by other disjunctive conjunctions such as けれど or しかし.
- E.g. あの人はいい人だったけれど頑固だった。[That person is indeed a good person, but he is stubborn.]
ジョーンズさんは日本語を話すことは話しますが、簡単なことしか言えません。[Mr. Jones indeed speaks Japanese, but he can say nothing but simple things.]
この店は安いことは安いですが、ものがよくありません。[This store is indeed cheap, but the merchandise isn’t very good.]
私のアパートは駅に近くて便利なことは便利ですが、家賃がとても高いです。[This apartment is close to the station, and it is indeed cheap, but the rent is really expensive.]
その女の子が好きだったことは好きでしたが、結婚はしなかったんです。[I did indeed like that girl, but I didn’t marry her.]
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