Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 2: 1/17


When, At the time of


Verb + とき
[い]Adjective + とき
[な]Adjective + + とき
Noun + + とき


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About とき

とき, or (とき) in kanji, is a noun that is regularly used to signify 'when' something happened (a verb). However, unlike some other time expressions, とき is mainly used to express things that happen at regular intervals (habits, hobbies, etc.), or at broad times/individual events (when it rains, when there is a sale at the shop, etc.)

Using とき is quite easy! You just need to attach it to the end of any independent word (verbs, nouns, or adjectives). As with most cases where a noun will be attached to another word in Japanese, we will also be required to use な after な-Adjectives, and after nouns. The case-marking particle に will generally come directly after (とき), signifying that another verb is about to follow.


As discussed previously, ときに is primarily used to discuss when things happened. What this means is that it will not be used to highlight ongoing states that were true during the first action. For example 'the time you tripped over a log on Tuesday'.

  • 学校(がっこう)から(いえ)(かえ)った(とき)火曜日(かようび)だった。(Unnatural Japanese)
    The time when I was going home from school was Tuesday. (Tuesday is a state, rather than an action, so とき will not be used to express something like this)

When とき is used, the nuance will be that it is describing one thing leading to another, rather than a static thing.

  • (おれ)高校生(こうこうせい)(とき)(おれ)()(おんな)()告白(こくはく)、「え、無理(むり)...」って()
    When I was in highschool I asked out a girl I liked, and she said 'umm, no way…' ((とき) is describing the broad event of 'being a highschool student', while is goes on to describe another single event that happened during that time.





    I listen to music when I take a walk.


    When I go to karaoke I feel happy.


    When you are having class, you have to be quiet.


    When I watched that movie, I cried.


    His parents died when he was going through a difficult time.

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      とき – Grammar Discussion

      Most Recent Replies (10 in total)

      • Dorade


        Yes I asked myself the same question, it does say that とき is used for broad periods and not specific events

      • jelly1


        Exactly my thoughts. The introduction/first example says it can be used for individual events but the Caution box says the opposite. Completely contradictory.

        Would be nice if we could get that point about に added to the page as well.

      • Lederhosen42


        Here to add onto the folks who are confused by the fact that the first example sentence is seemingly completely contradictory to the information given in the Caution section. Spent a fair amount of time scouring the first example and Caution section examples to work out what the difference was, but couldn’t work out what it would be.

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