Grammar: Use of -tara ~たら

Conditionals. In English all you have to do is stick on an 'if' and you're pretty much covered. (To be honest, they're pretty complicated in English, if you think about it. 'If I eat' vs 'If I had eaten' vs 'If I had eaten' vs 'If I ate' vs 'If I have eaten'... I suppose that isn't a problem of conditional conjugation, but of past/present/future and everything in between.) In Japanese, it's a little more complicated. Depending on what you're trying to say, you can choose from ~たら、~と、~ば、and なら.We've been reviewing the differences between each in class, and instead of studying for my test like a good student, I decided to doodle and call it studying. First in the series: "The Use of -tara #1". 

This use is for use in ordering past events. Basically, "When/After X-ed, Y-ed!" When I woke up this morning, there was a Turtle Cat standing on my bed.

The catch is, the Y action has to be an uncontrollable/surprising occurrence. This means you can't use it to order things like your daily actions (ie, "when I woke up, I got out of bed") because you have control of them. You can use this to recount things that happened to you, or things that you noticed - basically things outside of yourself. 

"When I got home, my friends were waiting outside." (OK)

"When I went to McDonald's, I sat in the booth on the right." (X)

In my textbook there was a line that confused me, because I felt it contradicted the rule: 「さきはいたら、だいぶよくなりました。」 "After I threw up earlier, I felt a lot better." My thought was she controls the way she feels, but really your health isn't something you control, so it adheres to the rule. 

When using ~たら #1, your sentence may come out as either when or after, since depending on the content one will sound more natural than the other in English.


  1. Hijacking the new article to get back to you!

    I'm glad you like my site! I've become a regular reader of yours too. It sounds like your time in Japan is going really well!

    I started the site to keep me from going crazy, since I don't leave for Japan til March and I can't take any classes at all in the meantime, and as a kind of study tool. I want different kinds of articles besides the kumozaru stuff for it, but it's hard to find topics. When I get to Japan, it's going to morph into something more like a travel blog like yours, although I plan to keep the project going then too.

    I'll have to check Kokoro out sometime. I actually just read that a new translation of Kokoro came out about a few weeks ago, and so now I want to read that translation more than the copy I have whose translation is over 50 years old!!

    They only announced yesterday that we could PRE-REGISTER for our classes starting tomorrow. I really hope there's a lit class! I still barely have any idea what I'm getting into...

    It's great to hear from you. Hope we can meet up sometime in Nihon before you come back to the States!

    (By the way, that first post which was deleted is the same as this one only without all the sentences that came out gibberish since I didn't proof read before posting...)

  2. Oh, also, would you mind if I put your site on my blogroll?