431 - ときたら

JLPT N1: ときたら

ときたら is a relatively easy grammar point to learn.

The short version: It means は.

Slightly longer version: It means は, and the noun that comes before ときたら is something the speaker is both familiar with and feeling dissatisfied about.

An example:

うちのときたら、彼氏ができてから毎週のように朝帰りしている。
うち の むすめ ときたら、 かれし が できて から まいしゅう の ように あさがえり している。
Ever since our daughter got a boyfriend, just about every week she stays out until the following morning.
Literally: “we (=our family) + の + daughter + ときたら, + boyfriend + が + since she made (=made [and] from) + every week + it seems (=のように) + staying out all night and coming home in the morning + is doing.”

The speaker in this sentence could have just said うちの娘は, but using は instead of ときたら would cause us to lose the nuance that the speaker is displeased with his/her daughter's behavior.

Makes sense. I think most parents tend to dislike having their daughters stay out all night with their boyfriends.


Forming sentences with ときたら is easy breezy Japanesey.

Just put a noun in front of it!

N + ときたら

娘(むすめ // daughter
ときたらむすめときたら // as for [my] daughter

店員(てんいん // store clerk
店員ときたらてんいんときたら // as for [this] store clerk

父(ちち // father
ときたらちちときたら // as for [my] father

Note that although I wrote "as for" in the translations here, in most sentences it would be unnatural to explicitly translate ときたら into "as for"... which is why you won't find the words "as for" in any of our examples' translations.


Only three more examples, then you'll have made it through today's delightfully short lesson.

ここの店員ときたら、いつ来ても無愛想だ。
ここ の てんいん ときたら、 いつ きても ぶあいそう だ。
Whenever I come here, the employees are always really curt.
Literally: “here + の + shop employees + ときたら, + anytime (I) come (=when + even if [I] come) + unsociable / blunt / curt + だ.”


私のときたら、何でもぺらぺらしゃべってしまうんです。
わたし の ちち ときたら、 なんでも ぺらぺら しゃべってしまう んです。
My father has no filter. // My father talks about everything. // My father can't keep his mouth shut.
Literally: “I + の + father + ときたら, + everything / anything + fluently + ends up speaking + んです.”
Note: For example, the speaker might be a young girl who is upset with her father because he started telling their neighbors about how she had her first period. Notice that this usage of ぺらぺら is different than when it means "fluent (in a language)."


優の髪はサラサラでいいなあ。私のときたら、何をしてもボサボサ。
ゆう の かみ は サラサラ で いい なあ。 わたし の かみ ときたら、 なに を しても ボサボサ。
Your hair [Yu's hair] is so nice and silky. My hair’s a mess no matter what I do with it.
Literally: “Yu + の + hair + は + silky and flowing + で + good + なあ. + I + の + hair + ときたら, + what + を + even if I do + messy / ruffled.”


Things to remember:
- ときたら is similar to は.
- The word before ときたら is always a noun.
- The noun before ときたら is something the speaker is criticizing or dissatisfied about.

People do use this grammar from time to time (a rarity for N1 grammar!), so it's worthwhile figuring out how to use it.

That's all. You're free now!

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