Reverse Conditions: …ても, …のに, and …が・けど・けれど・けれども

In spite of: のに

Last time, you learned how conditionals work in Japanese, e.g. “もし風邪かぜいたらやすみをる (If I catch a cold, I will take leave).” However, there is another type of conditional. If you would like to say, “I won’t take leave even if I catch a cold,” how should it be? We call this Reverse Conditions. In this lesson, you will learn the usages.

Explanation for How Reverse Conditions Work

Table of Contents
…ても: Even if
…のに: In Spite of
…が・けど・けれど・けれども: But or However
Preliminary Remarks

First of all, let’s clarify what reverse conditions are to make sure. This is a normal condition: “If I catch a cold, I will take leave,” because it’s very reasonable to take leave when you are under the weather. Then, reverse conditions mean when the relation between the conditional clause and the main clause is unreasonable, e.g. “even though I am feeling under the weather, I will go to work.” In English, the words: “in spite of,” “even if,” and “however” are the equivalent. Let’s learn how it works in Japanese.

…ても: Even if

けんむずかしくても ボブはべんきょう(しない / しません)
Hypothetical Condition Result
Bob won’t study even if the exam is difficult.

This is the counterpart to “even if” in English. The conjugation is to attach も with the te-form. Just like the ば in conditionals, this is suitable for when conditions are hypothetical. In this context, you can list two or more conditions as the forth example shows.

かねなくてもぼくしあわせ(だ / です)。
I'm happy even if [I] don’t have money.
たくさんべてもふとらない / ふとりません)。
[I] won’t get fat even if [I] eat a lot.
あめってもかさは(使つかわない / 使つかいません)。
As for umbrellas, [I] won’t use [it] even if [it] rains.
As for umbrellas, [I] won’t use [it] even if [it] rains and snows.

…ても often appears with a particular adverb such as もし, たとえ, and まんいち. They work to emphasize the hypothetical nuance like “by any chance” and “just in case.”

もしかねがなくてもぼくしあわせ(だ / です)。
たとえたくさんべても(ふとらない / ふとりません)。
まんいちあめってもかさは(使つかわない / 使つかいません)。

If you use question words with ても, you can express “no matter what…” or “whatever” in Japanese.

なにきてもあきらめ(ない / ません)。
[I] won’t give up no matter what happens.
いくらべても(ふとらない / ふとりません)。
[I] won’t get fat no matter how much [I] eat.

Note: there are cases where people use ても to list multiple conditions though they are not reverse conditions.

As for fishes, it’s delicious even if [you] boil and grill [it].
音楽おんがくうたってもおどってもたのしめ(る / ます)。
As for music, [you] can enjoy [it] even if [you] dance or sing.

…のに: In Spite of

 けんむずかしいのに ボブはべんきょう(しない / しません)
Actual Condition Result
Bob won’t study despite [the fact that] the exam is difficult.

This is the counterpart to “in spite of” or "despite" in English. The conjugation is to attach the plain (dictionary) form to のに. When you use nouns and na-adjectives, you need to add な like 元気のに. With the ても (hypothetical condition), it’s not certain whether the exam is actually difficult; however, if you use のに, the exam is difficult. Also there is another important point, のに implies complaint or surprise.

風邪かぜなのにはたらく / はたらきます)。
[I] will work despite [the fact that I have] a fever.
つかれているのにれ(ない / ません)。
[I] cannot sleep despite [the fact that I’m] tired.
[It] is very delicious despite [the fact that it’s] cheap.

You can omit the result part just like から and ので which express reasons. Depending on the contexts, it will be determined by whether you imply complaint or surprise.

(Complaint) [I] have a fever.
(Surprise) [I’m] tired.
(Surprise) [It] is cheap.

You cannot express the speaker’s feelings by using のに, e.g. volition, invitations, requests, and judgments. There is an exception. You can use negative commands and requests with のに.

たかいのに(おう / いましょう)。
=> Wrong!
たかいのに(わない / いませんか)?
=> Wrong!
=> Wrong!
Don’t buy [it] despite [the fact that it’s] expensive.

…が・けど・けれど・けれども: But or However

けんむずかしい(です) ボブはべんきょう(しない / しません)
Actual Condition Result
The exam is difficult, but Bob won’t study.

The four words が, けど, けれど, and けれども have the same meaning, which are the equivalent to “but” or “however,” with different formality. けれども is the highest,けど is the lowest, and が is the literary style. The conjugation is to place one of them after either the plain form or the polite form. Unlike のに, you don’t have to add な when you use nouns and na-adjectives.

れい(だ / です)、バラにはとげが(ある / あります)。
[It’s] beautiful, but roses have thorns.
あめ(だ / です)けどかけ(る / ます)。
[It’s] raining, but [I] will go out.
げん(だ / です)けれど、もうとし(だ / です)。
[I] am lively, but already the elder.
べんきょう(する / します)けれどもむずかしい(です)。
[I] will study, but [it] is difficult.

Both のに and が・けど・けれど・けれども indicate actual conditions and therefore they are interchangeable. However, only のに can imply complaint or surprise. Thus, the following examples don’t have any implication.

風邪かぜ(だ / です)けど、(はたらく / はたらきます)。
つかれて(いる / います)れ(ない / ません)。 

Since you lose the implication when you use が, けど, けれど, and けれども, you can express the speaker’s feelings unlike のに. However, negative commands and requests won’t work well here.

たかいけど(おう / いましょう)。
[It] is expensive, but let’s buy [it].
たかいけど(わない / いませんか)?
[It] is expensive, but won’t [you] buy [it]?
[It] is expensive, but please buy [it].
=> Wrong!

Preliminary Remarks

This is not involved with reverse conditions, but a very important function of が, けど, けれど, and けれども. Actually, you already know one sentence pattern which can express preliminary remarks. That’s the explanatory のだ.

もうすぐ結婚けっこんする(んだ / んです) 結婚式けっこんしき来月らいげつ(だよ / です)
Preliminary Remark Conclusion
[I will] get married soon. As for the wedding, [it] is next month.

By using the explanatory のだ in the first half, you can call the listeners’ attention to the coming sentences. が, けど, けれど, and けれども can do the same thing. However, there are some cases where が, けど, けれど, and けれども are more suitable.

When You Make Questions or Requests
らいしゅうまつりがあるけど、一緒いっしょに(かない / きませんか)?
There will be the festival next week. Won’t [you] go with me?
らいしゅうまつりがあるんだけど、一緒いっしょに(かない / きませんか)?
There will be a festival next week. Won’t [you] go with me?

This is the typical usage. When you make questions or requests, you have to use が, けど, けれど, or けれども. As you can see from above, のだ(んだ)sometimes appears at the same time. When you’re talking about new things to listeners, you should use のだ(んだ)together.


In this context, the main clauses can be omitted. This usually happens when you have something hesitant to say.

When You Briefly Mention Main Issues
As for the next week, [I heard] a typhoon will come.
らいしゅうなん(だ / です)。 台風たいふうるらしい(です)。
=> Unnatural!

When you use のだ, it should be a complete sentence. Thus, if you pick up a phrase which you would like listeners to focus on, が, けど, けれど, and けれども are more suitable. With the example above, the sentence: “来週なんだ (it’s next week)” doesn’t make much sense.

Apart from the Above, There Is No Difference
[I] went to Japan last year. It was very good.
[I] went to Japan last year. It was very good.


  1. ても expresses “even if.” Conditions are hypothetical.
  2. のに expresses “in spite of” and requires な when using with nouns and na-adjectives.
  3. が, けど, けれど, and けれども express “but” and don’t require な unlike のに.
  4. のに and が, けど, けれど, and けれども are interchangeable.
  5. Only のに expresses complaint or surprise.
  6. が, けど, けれど, and けれども also express preliminary remarks.

You have learned the ways to connect sentences by using the conjugations so far. Congratulations. Actually, you have completed all of them. Now, you have ability to express what you want to say precisely and colorfully. On the other hand, you can also connect sentences by using conjunctions, too. In the next lesson, we will pick up the major conjunctions.