ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん 🌳 Week 1 (The Wolf of the Small Forest Book Club)

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The earlier someone is in learning Japanese, the easier it is to get by mapping Japanese to English.

As you progress, you start to see weaknesses in those associations, as they go from being a helpful crutch to being a source of confusion.

「だって」 to “because” is one of those helpful crutches to understanding that you outgrow, and now will be the time for some readers.


About だって

The first thing to know is that だって isn’t a word.

This may come as a shock when hearing about it for the first time.

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だって is a combination of だ and って.

だ is what attaches to a noun in noun sentences (sentences that say “[something] is [noun]”).

An example sentence in English would be, “The animal living under the park bench is a cat.”

って is a short form of the quote marker と and the verb ()う (meaning “to say”).

Adding the meaning of this って to our English sentence changes it to, “They say the animal living under the park bench is a cat.”

In other words, you can take any Japanese sentence that ends in だ and add って to it to change it from “This is X” to “They say this is X”. Note that “they” can be any other party, so it can be “He said” or “She said” and so on.


Consider this panel from 「三ツ星カラーズ」 where Kotoha has heard from a shop owner about a case that she and her friends can take on:

The sentence 「大事件(だいじけん)だ」 means “It’s a big case.”

By adding って, it becomes 「大事件(だいじけん)だって」, meaning “She said it’s a big case.”


If だって is adding って to the だ at the end of a sentence, then what about when a sentence begins with だって?

In this case, the だ is essentially filling in for what was just said.

Consider in English:

“I knew it wouldn’t rain today.”

“You say that, but you brought your umbrella with you.”

See where the reply first refers back to the statement, then contradicts it?

“But” is one of the words when making a contrasting remark.

In Japanese, when a sentence starts with 「だって…」, it’s like “You say that” in English, then it typically follows with a contrasting statement.

Because a contrasting statement often follows after だって, and because English uses “but” before a contrasting statement, someone decided that “but” was a good translation for だって.


In this scene from ARIA, Akari sees a girl eating alone.

Akari: “Hey, won’t you join us for lunch?”

Akari’s friend Aika doesn’t have a high opinion of the girl.

Aika: “Hey, Akari! Why’re you inviting her?!”

Akari: 「だって だって」

In the following panels, Akari expresses to Aika why she wants the girl to join them for lunch.

Here, だって fills the role of “You say that…” about Aika’s statement suggesting she shouldn’t invite the girl before giving her contrasting reason for why she should invite her.


The sentence that follows after だって doesn’t have to contrast or negate the sentence before it. There’s nothing inherent in だって that requires a contrast. だって can be used to take what someone said and add information.

To show this, here is a scene from “Detective Conan”:

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Ran: “Aaah! This is Ichirou’s room, isn’t it?”

Old man: “That’s right, but…”

His reply implies wondering how Ran knew this room belongs to the artist.

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Ran: “だって, look, a painting’s sitting here!”

Ran isn’t contrasting the old man’s implied question in this case. She’s supplementing it.

In English, we’d say “because” or “after all” here, which is why these two are also listed as translations for だって.

Side-note: Her ある+もの at the end is like Mia’s だ+もん.


Now, let’s bring this back to Mia and our Wolf-chan.

Wolf-chan says いつの()に, which is a combination of words and particle that act as an expression when asking when something happened. The implication is that Wolf-chan was hiding, so when did this human child find her?

Mia responds along the lines of, “You say that, but your ears and tail were completely visible.” In other words, you weren’t hidden very well.

Now that we can see that だって does not mean “because”, but rather gets used in situations where English sometimes adds the word because, it’s time to check into だもん.


About だもん

When もの appears at the end of a sentence, it has the nuance of explaining something.

Consider the following in English:

Question: “Why did you sign up for WaniKani?”

Response: “I want to learn kanji.”
Response: “Because I want to learn kanji.”
Response: “The thing is, I want to learn kanji.”

Any of these is fine as a response, but in English, we typically use “because” to give a reason why.

In Japanese, you’ll see something like the third option: “the thing is”.

Among its various uses, もの is essentially a “thing”.

When attached to the end of a sentence, it gives the nuance of “the thing is, [sentence]”.

If a sentence ends in a noun + だ, then add もの, the sentence ends in だもの. But really, it’s just だ+もの.

Often, this use of もの gets spoken as もん. Thus, you get だ+もん.


Consider this scene from 「おじさまと猫」.

After his cat ran outside and was lost for several days, the owner put a fence up in front of his doorway. This will keep his cat from being able to escape.

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As it turns out, the cat can easily jump over the fence.

The owner relays this to a friend later.

Owner: “The fence wasn’t high enough.”

Friend: “Hahaha! The thing is, it’s a cat.”

In English, he might say, “That’s because it’s a cat.”

It may now be clear that だもん does not mean “because”, but gets used in situations where English commonly uses the word because, rather than a different wording.


What if we use both だって (which doesn’t mean “because”) and だもん (which also doesn’t mean “because”)? The meaning may be a bit more clear now.

Explans of だって…だもん

In an early volume of 「からかい上手の高木さん」, Takagi convinces Nishikata to spend summer break practice riding his bike with her on the back of it.

Because Nishikata doesn’t know that Takagi likes him, he is unaware that she wants to be with him during summer break when they won’t be in school.

He suggests there’s no reason for them to do the biking riding practice.

Takagi: “You say that, but the thing is it’s summer break from tomorrow.”

Here, I’ve translated だって as “you say that”, I’ve added “but” as that’s what we use in English before making a contrasting statement, and finally, I used “the thing is” for だもん.

A more “English” translation could be:

Takagi: “It’s because summer break begins tomorrow.”


Conan and his detective club friends hide in a building until night to investigate a possible murder.

Suddenly, the lights come on.

Conan: “Idiots, don’t go turning on the lights!”

Ayumi: “You say that, but the thing is it’s dark…”

Here, I’ve translated だって as “you say that”, だもん as “the thing is”, and I added “but” to make it work in English.

Here is how the English release handled this panel:

(Hopefully that wasn’t too long. If I had more time, I might have written a shorter reply.)

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