What is だって when it's at the beginning of a sentence?


I have read several definitions of だって but none of them seem to make sense when I see it at the beginning of a sentence and I read the context. I saw one example Japanese sentence and in the English translation だって wasn't translated into anything.

So what is だって when it's at the beginning of a sentence?

language hacker

Posted 2011-11-04T23:05:05.457

Reputation: 4 861



Well, since I have no examples to go off of, I'll guess at which type of scenario you're thinking of. It can mean like "But" or "Well (then)" in a kind of defensive sort of way. Usually giving a reason for some action. Like なぜかというと. Ex:

お皿{さら}のものはみんな食{た}べなさい → Eat everything on your plate.
だってお腹{なか}が一杯{いっぱい}なんだもん → But I'm full!


Posted 2011-11-04T23:05:05.457

Reputation: 41 485

2Can it mean "because?" – language hacker – 2011-11-04T23:41:50.713

1Perhaps, but the most common way I see だって translations go wrong is using "because" when it's not appropriate. だって is used to indicate that you're providing (or implying that you have) personal thoughts/reasons justifying your behaviour/statements. It implores the other person to agree with your logic. "Because" has much more of a sense of completely firm reasoning that doesn't admit discussion. When it seems that "because" applies, "I mean / after all" is probably more fitting. (I'd advise you to post some example sentences if you want more clarification.) – Hyperworm – 2011-11-05T01:22:14.740

@languagehacker: why would you think it could mean "because"? If "because" there is, then in "もん" it is, not in "だって". – Axioplase – 2011-11-05T07:38:34.060

Is it similar to だから? – Karl Knechtel – 2011-11-05T08:13:37.060

@karl: no. 1) You don't start a sentence with だから (except in Sendai, maybe). 2) Standard Japanese for だから is "because". We (I) just said that だって is not "because". – Axioplase – 2011-11-05T10:36:12.387

1I was thinking of how だから gets used in anime. It often seems like an interjection, or like it would be better translated "Like I said" or something like that. – Karl Knechtel – 2011-11-05T17:24:25.610

1I've often heard だから beginning a sentence, meaning either "Like I said ..." or "So ...", but I really don't see how that can be compared to だって (other than that they're both prone to being mistranslated). – Hyperworm – 2011-11-06T03:52:31.907

@KarlKnechtel: that's quite informal, probably 100% spoken, and there's an omission of all that was said before. As for the meaning, just like Hyperworm wrote. – Axioplase – 2011-11-06T04:08:38.813

1[お皿さらのものはみんな食たべなさい] This sentence is EXTREMELY suspicious :) – 龚元程 – 2011-11-07T14:16:35.927

@ 龚元程 - I don't know why you think so. But if you don't believe me, take it up with プログレッシブ和英中辞典, because that's where I got the example from.

– istrasci – 2011-11-07T15:18:45.997

1@istraci: Not nearly native, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, but... a) Why is the food the topic of an imperative sentence? Actually, I don't think I've ever seen a topic marker in an imperative sentence. Maybe it could be a contrastive は, but what does it contrast with? Things that fell off the plate? b) Can you use みんな for non-people? It reads more like telling everyone to eat what's on the plates, and not telling one person to eat everything on the plate. – Amadan – 2011-11-07T20:32:00.950

1@Amadan - You should post this question as a separate topic. I think it's great and worthy of discussion. But continuing that discussion here will just leave it buried and not useful for others. – istrasci – 2011-11-07T20:37:26.883


だって (at the beginning of a sentence!) is always followed by:

  • reason, pretext (because, ...etc.)
  • opposition (but, ...etc.)

So it's not only 'but' or 'like I said'.

It's context dependent and it CAN be translated as because.

(Context is an emo-schoolgirl-drama.)


At least give me a smile. Why don't you talk to me anymore?


Because I heard you don't like me.


Posted 2011-11-04T23:05:05.457

Reputation: 481