897 - ~たとたん(に)

JLPT N3: ~たとたん(に)《just when; right after; the moment; the instant

We can put とたん(に)right after a plain past tense verb when we want to express that one thing happened right after another thing.

The nuance is that the thing said after とたん(に)happened so quickly after the thing before とたん(に)that it seems like they happened simultaneously, almost.

とたん(に)corresponds to English patterns like "the moment A, B" and "just when A, B."

An example:

テーブルを持ち上げとたん、腰に激痛が走った。
テーブル を もちあげた とたん、 こし に げきつう が はしった。
The moment I lifted the table, a sharp pain ran down my back.
Literally: “table + を + lifted / picked up + とたん, + (lower) back + に + sharp pain / intense pain + が + ran.”


持ち上げる(もちあげる // to lift up; to raise

持ち上げたもちあげた // lifted up; raised

持ち上げとたんもちあげたとたん // the moment [I] lifted up; just when [I] raised


In this example, the things that happen before and after とたん seem to be related, yeah? In other words, lifting the table probably triggered the sharp pain. It is common for the things mentioned before and after とたん to be related like this.

 

👷 Construction 👷

I already mentioned this above, but the pattern we're looking at is:

V とたん(に)


As we saw in our first example, the is often dropped, but that is not always the case:

姉は子供を産んとたんに、ぶくぶく太り始めた。
あね は こども を うんだ とたんに、 ぶくぶく ふとり はじめた。
My sister started getting really fat right after she had a kid. // As soon as my sister had a kid, she started blowing up like a balloon.
Literally: “(older) sister + は + child + を + gave birth + とたんに, + bulging / swelling + started gaining weight.”

 

Perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier, but the thing that is mentioned after ~たとたん(に)is an unanticipated event.

That is, the speaker did not expect the thing after ~たとたん(に)to happen. In our examples above, the speaker did not expect to feel a sharp pain running down his/her back or to see his/her sister start getting fat.

Or maybe the speaker didn't expect his/her friend to become a total jerk the moment he got famous...

彼は有名になっとたんに、嫌な奴になった。
かれ は ゆうめい に なった とたんに、 いやな やつ に なった。
He became an asshole as soon as he became famous.
Literally: “he + は + famous + に + became + とたんに, + unpleasant / disagreeable + person / guy + に + became.”

 

Have you ever been in a classroom of rowdy students before the teacher shows up?

If so, I'm guessing it takes very little stretch of the imagination to see how this outcome could be unanticipated:

先生が入って来とたん、教室は静まり返った。
せんせい が はいって きた とたん、 きょうしつ は しずまりかえった。
The classroom fell silent the moment the teacher walked in the room.
Literally: “sensei / teacher + が + enter (and) + came + とたん, + classroom + は + became silent.”

 

Last thing I should mention: The events surrounding ~たとたん(に)can only be things that actually happened.

As such, we cannot put requests, commands, plans, intentions, etc. after ~たとたん(に)

✕ 駅に着いとたんに、電話をください。
✕ えき に ついた とたんに、 でんわ を ください。
✕ Please call me as soon as you get to the station.
✕ Literally: “station + に + arrived + とたんに, + phone (call) + を + please.”



↑ In this situation, you could just use ~たら, which we covered in an N4 lesson:

〇 駅に着いたら、すぐ電話をください。
〇 えき に ついたら、 すぐ でんわ を ください。
〇 Please call me as soon as you get to the station.
〇 Literally: “station + に + when/if (you) arrived, + right away + phone (call) + を + please.”


(If you want to review the use of をください, go back to this N5 lesson.)

 

Finished!

This is a useful grammar point. Maybe try to find examples from your own life that fit nicely into the ~たとたん(に)pattern and try to use them with a friend, language exchange partner, teacher, etc.

Good luck!
Discussion

0 comments