Japanese casual expression: かもだけど (kamo dakedo)

By | December 22, 2022

Learning a language involves not just understanding the meanings of words and combinations of words, but also their nuances and when it is appropriate to use them. In this post, I would like to go over the casual expression “かもだけど” (ka mo da kedo).

This expression is composed of two parts, the “ka mo” and the “da kedo”, which we will look at one at a time.

The “ka mo” (かも) is comprised of the particle “ka” that is used for questions, and the particle “mo” which has various meanings, such as “also”. The expression “ka mo” is actually an shortening of the “ka mo shirenai”, which we can see an example of here:

  • 雨が降るかもしれない (ame ga furu ka mo shirenai)

“Shirenai” is the negative potential form of the verb “shiru” (to know, 知る), which literally means “(one) cannot know”. Also, in this case the “mo” doesn’t have a strong meaning. So we can translate the sentence as:

  • One cannot know if it will rain.

Or more naturally as:

  • Maybe it will rain.

In fact, “ka mo shirenai” is one of the most common ways to express the idea of uncertainty at the end of a sentence. The word “darou” can also be used, but it has a stronger feeling of assertion by the speaker. Alternatively, you can use words like “tabun” (perhaps) earlier in the sentence.

So we can use the shortening “ka mo” to mean the exact same thing, with the only difference being the casual tone.

  • 雨が降るかも (ame ga furu ka mo)

Now onto the “da kedo” part. This is comprised of “da”, the regular form of the copula that basically means “to be”/“is”/”are”, and “kedo” which is a word that is a light conjunction similar to “but”. It doesn’t necessarily have a strong contrasting meaning though, and can be used more to connect things. Let’s look at an example:

  • ぼくはアメリカ人だけど、英語が読めない (boku wa amerikajin da kedo, eigo ga yomenai)
  • I am an American, but I can’t read English.

So now we can return to the original topic, “かもだけど” (ka mo da kedo). The meaning of this expression is (for the most part) just the sum of its parts, for example:

  • 君は知らないかもだけど難しいよ (kimi wa shiranai ka mo da kedo, muzukashii yo)
  • You might not know, but it is difficult.

But as I mentioned in the intro, an important thing about this expression is the fact that it is a casual expression that is used primarily in spoken language and shouldn’t be used in written language (though a place like text chat would be OK).

The reason for this is that strictly speaking, it is not correct grammar. While even polite or written language can omit words, omitting an entire verb in the middle of a sentence really breaks the grammatical structure. To be honest I rarely hear this expression; one of the few times I did was in an anime where a high school girl used it.

If you want to use language that is more grammatically sound, you can use expressions like:

  • 〜だろうけど〜 (~darou kedo~)
  • 〜かもしれないけど〜 (~ka mo shirenai kedo)

Even just separating out the parts into two sentences is more proper (though still somewhat casual):

  • 〜かも。だけど〜 (~kamo. dakedo~)
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