Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 8: 1/18

たら

When, From when, Just when, If

Structure

Verb[た]+
[い]Adjective[た]+
[な]Adjective + だった +
Noun + だった +

Details

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About たら

The conjunction particle たら is used as a kind of 'halfway point' between 'if' and 'when' in Japanese. It expresses the completion of an (A) action, and then a (B) action that is considered to be the result of (A). It may be hypothetical, or it may be presenting a one-time result of something that happened in the past.
To use たら, it will replace た in the simple past form of verbs, い-Adjectives, な-Adjectives, and nouns.
  • 今度(こんど)(おく)たら(ゆる)ない
    When/if you are next late, I will not let it slide.
  • (さむ)かったら、エアコンつけ
    When/if you are cold, turn on the air conditioner.
  • (かれ)(こと)()だったら(かれ)()(ほう)がいい
    When/if you like him, you should tell him.
  • 明日(あした)だったら(あそ)
    When/if it is tomorrow, I can hang out.
Caution
Despite appearing to be the past form of the word that it is attached to, たら itself does not actually carry the nuance of 'past'. Other words in the sentence will need to be examined to see whether たら is truly highlighting something from the past, or simply the completion of something (which may or may not happen in the future).
  • 来週(らいしゅう)だったらいける
    If it is next week, I can go. (Highlighting a future event)
  • 先週(せんしゅう)だったら()のに
    If it was last week, I could have gone. (Highlighting a past event)
Fun Fact
Although たら is regularly used to mean 'if', it almost always has a nuance of 'when'. This is due to たら specifically highlighting the following situations:
Completion: 完了(かんりょう) - Completion of (A).
Materialization: 成立(せいりつ) - Coming to fruition of (A).
These meanings are opposed to other 'if' structures like , and なら, which focus far more strongly on the hypothetical 'if' meaning.
  • ()(もの)()たら、クッキー()てき
    When/if you go shopping, please get me some cookies.
  • あなたその(ほん)()ないなら(わたし)()ます
    If you are not going to read that book, I will read it.

Examples

  • 勉強(べんきょう)たらテスト簡単(かんたん)になる

    When/if you study, the test will become easy.

  • (ちゃ)(あじ)(うす)かったら()ってください

    Please let me know if/when the tea is weak.

  • もし()べに()たかったら()こう

    If/when you want to go out to eat, let's go!

  • 週末(しゅうまつ)だったら時間(じかん)あります

    When it is the weekend, then I have time.

  • (から)かったら牛乳(ぎゅうにゅう)()んでください

    If it is spicy, please drink some milk.

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たら – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (35 in total)

  • Warrie

    Warrie

    About 7 days ago

    もし食べに行きたかったら、行こう
    If/when you want to go out to eat, let’s go!

    I can’t figure this one out, despite the explanation earlier in the thread.
    The た in たかったら is from たい, but ‘If you want to’ isn’t past tense, so why is たい conjugated to past tense?

  • IcyIceBear

    IcyIceBear

    About 7 days ago

    Because that’s how たら is used, past tense with a ら

  • Warrie

    Warrie

    About 7 days ago

    Oh my. Completely missed that one. Thank you so much, spent an hour googling for an answer

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