Language | WELL SAID

Pointing out things that run counter to a situation with 'X-ta tokoro de'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Korekara zangyō shita tokoro de, ashita made niwa kansei shinai yo.

(It won’t be completed by tomorrow, even if we stay after working hours.)

Situation 1: It’s getting late and Ms. Gray talks to Mr. Mita about a report she’s working on.

グレイ: 担当者に、できればあしたまでに報告書を出してほしいって言われたんだけど。

三田: ええ、無理だよ。これから残業して作業したところで、あしたまでには完成しないよ。

Gray: Tantōsha ni, dekireba ashita made ni hōkokusho o dashite hoshii-tte iwareta-n da kedo.

Mita: Ee, muri da yo. Korekara zangyō shite sagyō shita tokoro de, ashita made niwa kansei shinai yo.

Gray: The person in charge says that he wants to get the report by tomorrow if possible.

Mita: What? It’s impossible. It won’t be completed by tomorrow even if we stay after working hours and make it.

The conjunction ところで here is combined with the past form of a verb to create Xたところで、Y, in which “X” is the verb in its infinitive past form and “Y” is a clause that tends to be (but not always) in the negative nai-form.

Rather than refer to something in the past, though, the structure is meant to point out something that runs counter to the facts of a situation and can be rendered as “even if”:

私(わたし)が100回(ひゃっかい)謝(あやま)ったところで、彼(かれ)は許(ゆる)してくれないだろう。

(He won’t forgive me even if I apologize to him a hundred times.)

The “Y” part of the clause doesn’t have to use a verb in nai-form, markers such as 無理 (むり, impossible) and 無意味 (むいみ, meaningless) are also an option to point out that doing “X” is useless:

12月(じゅうにがつ)からがんばったところで、あの大学(だいがく)に合格(ごうかく)するのは無理だ。

(It’s impossible to pass [enter] that university even if you try your hardest from December.)

Just because the “Y” clause is framed as a negative, the sentence’s overall meaning doesn’t have to indicate something bad:

台風(たいふう)の強(つよ)い風(かぜ)が吹(ふ)いたところで、この建物(たてもの)はびくともしませんよ。

(This building can withstand [won’t budge] even if the strong winds of a typhoon blow [against it].)

Situation 2: The Shibas are taking the day to visit a tourist spot when Mr. Shiba notices how late it’s getting.

夫: もうこんな時間だ。タクシーで行けば、4時の新幹線に乗れるかな。

妻: 今からタクシーで行ったって、乗れるはずがないでしょ。1時間あとのにしましょう。

Otto: Mō konna jikan da. Takushī de ikeba, yo-ji no shinkansen ni noreru kana.

Tsuma: Ima kara takushī de ittatte, noreru hazu ga nai desho. Ichi-jikan ato no ni shimashō.

Husband: It’s already so late. If we go by taxi, maybe we can get on the 4 p.m. shinkansen.

Wife: Even if we get a taxi now, we won’t catch it. Let’s do the one that’s an hour later.

Xたって、Y is a more colloquial way of saying Xたところで、Y:

ゴミの問題(もんだい)を役所(やくしょ)に頼(たの)んだって、すぐには改善(かいぜん)してはくれないだろう。

(Even if we make a request to the municipal office about our garbage problem, it seems it won’t be improved for us immediately.)

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Gray and Ms. Tamachi are talking about Mr. Tien.

グレイ: 田町(たまち)さん、ティエンさんのことが好(す)きなんだったら、デートに誘(さそ)ったら?

田町: ううん、私が誘ったところで、振(ふ)り向(む)いてくれないよ。ティエンさんには付(つ)き合(あ)っている人(ひと)がいると思(おも)う。

グレイ: そんなこと、わからないでしょう?じゃ、聞(き)いてみたらどう?

田町: 聞いたところで、悲(かな)しい思いをするだけよ。

グレイ: でも、その時(とき)はその時よ。ほら、三田(みた)くんなんか、しょっちゅう失恋(しつれん)したって、すぐ立(た)ち直(なお)るでしょう?あの楽天的(らくてんてき)なところは見習(みなら)うべきよ。

三田: [話(はなし)に入(はい)る] え、ぼくのこと、うわさしている? モテる男(おとこ)はつらいなあ。

Gray: Ms. Tamachi, if you like Mr. Tien, why don’t you ask him out?

Tamachi: Hmm, he will turn me down even if I ask him. I think Mr. Tien is seeing someone else.

Gray: You don’t know a thing like that. Well, why not try asking?

Tamachi: I will feel sad even if I do ask him.

Gray: Well, cross that bridge when you come to it [lit., that time is that time]. Look, Mr. Mita is constantly getting dumped, but he picks himself up, right? You should watch and learn from his positive outlook.

Mita: [Joins the conversation] Huh, are you whispering about me? It’s tough being such a popular guy.

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