Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 3: 13/23

~てこそ

Only if, Because, By, Unless, Until

Structure

Verb[て]+ こそ

Details

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    Standard

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    一般

About ~てこそ

In a similar way to how the particle こそ highlights a particular word as being the 'precise' or 'exact' reason for something, its combination with the て-form of a verb will indicate that (B) is absolutely reliant on (A). This reliance can be translated in several different ways, and will usually become clear in the (B) part of sentences. Standard interpretations include 'only if (A), (B)', 'unless (A), (B)', or 'until (A), (B)'.
  • 海外(かいがい)留学(りゅうがく)てこそ日本食(にほんしょく)美味(おい)しさが()かる。
    Only by studying abroad can one appreciate the deliciousness of Japanese food.
  • (おや)になってこそ子育(こそだ)ての大変(たいへん)さがわかる。
    It's only when you become a parent that you understand how hard it is to raise a child.
  • チーム全員(ぜんいん)責任(せきにん)背負(せお)てこそ、キャプテンになれる。
    You become a captain only if you take on the responsibility of the whole team.
  • (ほか)のチームに()てこそ世界一(せかい)になれる。
    Only by beating other teams can we become the best in the world.
The reliance that (B) has on (A) can be translated in several different ways, but the most common interpretations are that (A) will determine either the outcome, assessment, or evaluation of (B), based on the speaker's opinion, values, or understanding of the situation.

Examples

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  • 日本(にほん)()てこそ京都(きょうと)魅力(みりょく)()かる

    Only by going to Japan, one can understand the charm of Kyoto.

    • (おや)になってこそ子供(こども)奇跡(きせき)だという(かんが)(かた)()かる

      Only by becoming a parent, you can understand the mindset that children are miracles.

      • 優勝(ゆうしょう)てこそ自信(じしん)(つな)がる。

        It is only by winning that one becomes confident.

        • 全部(ぜんぶ)(そろ)てこそコレクションだ。

          It is a collection only by being complete.

          • 全員(ぜんいん)参加(さんか)てこそ遠足(えんそく)だ。

            It is only because everyone is participating that it is an outing.

            It isn't an outing until everyone participates.

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            ~てこそ – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (2 in total)

            • ljoekelsoey

              ljoekelsoey

              Is this interchangeable with Verb + ことだけで ?

            • Fuga

              Fuga

              Hey @ljoekelsoey !

              This grammar point is not interchangeable with だけで. The ‘just by’ translation of てこそ has the nuance of ‘until…/unless…’, which だけで does not have.

              Let’s look at this sentence for example:

              になってこそ子供奇跡だというかる。The translation on the site is ’ Only by becoming a parent, you can understand the mindset that children are miracles.’, but the nuance this sentence carries is ’ Unless you become a parent first, you wont understand the mindset that children are miracles.’

              When that てこそ is replaced with だけで, it will change the nuance to ‘Becoming a parent is the only thing necessary to understand that childre...

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