751 - と~た ([cause])

JLPT N3: と~た・~たら~た (when... did)

By following「Vる」or「Vたら 」with a phrase in the past tense (~た), we can describe that something occurred because of something else.

The action occurring before or ~たら is the impetus for the action after or ~たら.

Our translations of this type of sentence will often include the word "when."

An example:


お母さんがえさを撒く、ハトが集まってきました。
おかあさん が えさ を まくと、 ハト が あつまって きました。
When my mom scattered the food, pigeons gathered around.
Literally: “mother + が + food (for animals) + を + scatter + と, + pigeons + が + gathered around (=collect / gather [and] + came).”


You'll have noticed that these sentences are following the same pattern as a couple of grammar points we've seen before.

The meanings of the sentences differ, but the constructions are pretty much the same:
- [NDL #743] - JLPT N4: と~た ([discovery])
- [NDL #744] - JLPT N3: と~た ([coincidence])


Here's another example:


右のスイッチを押す、音楽が流れ始めました。
みぎ の スイッチ を おすと、 おんがく が ながれはじめました。
When I flipped the switch on the right, music started playing.
Literally: “right + の + switch + を + press + と, + music + が + started playing.”


I was tempted to translate the above sentence as "When I pushed the switch..." but I thought that using the verb "push" with "switch," though closer to the Japanese, sounded a bit strange.

The thing is, they do often have light switches that you would "push" in Japan:

You'll also notice that these light switches are horizontal and not vertical, which is often the case.


Like the other uses of と~た that we've seen, it is also possible to say ~たら~た, like so:


チョコをあげたら、その子は泣き止みました。
チョコ を あげたら、 その こ は なきやみました。
When I gave the child chocolate, she stopped crying.
Literally: “chocolate + を + if/when (I) gave, + that + child + は + stopped crying.”


This has pretty much the same meaning as と~た, except ~たら~た sounds a bit more colloquial.

You'll come across both と~た and ~たら~た. If I had to guess, I'd say that I hear ~たら~た more often.

Here's another example with ~たら~た


お腹いっぱい食べたら、眠くなりました。
おなか いっぱい たべたら、 ねむく なりました。
After filling up on food, I got tired.
Literally: “stomach + full + if/when (I) ate, + sleepy + became.”


And with that, you've now studied all of the と~た~たら~た grammar points. Your name be praised, Oh Studious One.


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