527 - さい(に)

JLPT N3: さい(に)《when; on the occasion of

This lesson is pretty straightforward:

際 (さい) basically just means とき (when it is used to mean "when," not "time"), but 際 is only used in formal situations.

An example:

大阪の中学校に転校する際に、たくさんの友達から手紙や花束をもらった。
おおさか の ちゅうがっこう に てんこう する さいに、 たくさん の ともだち から てがみ や はなたば を もらった。
When I was transferring to a middle school in Osaka, I got letters and flowers from a lot of my friends.
Literally: “Osaka + の + middle school + に + change schools + do + on the occasion of, + a lot of + friends + from + letter + や + flower bouquets + を + received.”

As you can see here, sometimes に is included after 際, but this is not always the case:

インターネットでチケットを予約したの予約番号は、必ず控えておいてください。
インターネット で チケット を よやく した さい の よやく ばんごう は、 かならず ひかえて おいて ください。
When reserving a ticket on the Internet, please be sure to jot down your reservation number.
Literally: “Internet + で + ticket + を + reservation + did + on the occasion of + の + reservation + number + は, + without fail + jot down / make a note of (and) + do (in advance / as preparation) (and) + please.”


Unless you're studying a Japanese textbook, which tend to "teach down" to students, then you're probably going to see 際 (さい) written in kanji. So it may help to take a good, long look a this:

If you're doing the kanji-via-mnemonics approach talked about in this article, then it may also help to take another look at some of the stories being used on koohii for this character, too.

But we're talking about grammar today. Not kanji. So let's get back to it...


際 will always show up after a VERB in plain present (Vる) or plain past (Vた)form. It can also show up after "NOUN + の."

In this lesson, we'll see:


転校する
てんこう する さい
when changing schools
Literally: “changing schools + do + on the occasion of”

予約した
よやく した さい
after reserving; after making a reservation
Literally: “reservation + did + on the occasion of”

負った
おった さい
after bearing (e.g. a wound)
Literally: “bore (the weight of) / took (a heavy thing) + on the occasion of”

非常の
ひじょう の さい
in the case [event] of an emergency
Literally: “emergency + の + on the occasion of”

Not much else I can teach you that the examples can't...



非常のは、非常階段を使って外に避難してください。
ひじょう の さい は、 ひじょうかいだん を つかって そと に ひなん して ください。
In the event of an emergency, please evacuate the building via the emergency stairs.
Literally: “emergency + の + on the occasion of, + emergency stairs + を + use (and) + outside + に + evacuation + do (and) + please.”




これは戦時中、ある兵士が爆撃を受けて重傷を負った際に、戦場から母親に送った実際の手紙です。
これ は せんじちゅう、 ある へいし が ばくげき を うけて じゅうしょう を おった さいに、 せんじょう から ははおや に おくった じっさい の てがみ です。
This is the actual letter that a soldier sent to his mother during the war just after he was seriously wounded in a bombing raid.
Literally: “this + は + during a war, + a certain + soldier + が + bombing + を + receive (and) + serious wound + を + bore + on the occasion of, + battleground / place of military conflict + from + mother + に + sent + actual + の + letter + です.”



And, as is to be expected, we have a tricky example to wrap things up (as if your head wasn't already spinning from that last sentence with all of its war-related vocabulary)...

I said that verbs and nouns always come before 際, but you will also occasionally see その, which is not really a noun. Dictionaries like to call it a "pre-noun adjectival," whatever that means. I think we can get away with just calling it an adjective, though (although it is neither a na-adjective nor an i-adjective).

Having said that, there is a simple explanation as to why その際, or even この際 are acceptable. We can think of the words その and この simply as abbreviations of それの and これの. And since それ and これ are nouns, this fits the pattern that we saw earlier: "NOUN + の."

それのその
それ の さい → その さい
at that time; when that

Anyway, yeah, it can come before 際:

参加費は入り口のカウンターでお支払いください。その、顔写真付きの身分証明書を提示してください。
さんかひ は いりぐち の カウンター で おしはらい ください。 その さい、 かおじゃしん(かおしゃしん) つき の みぶんしょうめいしょ を ていじ して ください。
Please pay the entrance fee at the counter near the entrance. When you do, you will need to present a photo I.D.
Literally: “participation fee + は + entrance + の + counter + で + please pay (=お-pay + please). + that + on the occasion of, + photograph of one’s face + -attached + の + form of identification + を + presentation + do (and) + please.”

Generally speaking, you can just think of その際 as meaning "at that time."

Even though this is formal language, and you may not have very many opportunities to use it, you will come across 際 being used in Japanese. It is very common. So let's master it!




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