742 - と ([conditional] when; once)

JLPT N4: と ([conditional] when; once)

You must be very excited... because we're looking at even more conditional phrases in this lesson.

We've seen ~たら:
- [NDL #484] - JLPT N4: ~たら (if)
- [NDL #561] - JLPT N4: ~たらいい (hope)
- [NDL #491] - JLPT N4: ~たら (after)

We've seen なら:
- [NDL #735] - JLPT N4: なら

We've seen ~ば:
[NDL #736] - JLPT N4: ~ば
- [NDL #737] - JLPT N3: ~ば...(のに)
- [NDL #567] - JLPT N4: ~ばいい (hope)

And we've seen a bit of と:
- [NDL #560] - JLPT N4: ~といい (hope)

And now we're going to look at in even more depth...


is used when forming conditional phrases describing inevitable results of actions.

In other words, it's like saying "If A occurs, B always occurs."

Because of this, it typically gets translated as "When A occurs, B occurs."

It is an appropriate construction to use when describing the way things work, for example:


暗くなる、たくさんの星が見えます。
くらくなる と、 たくさん の ほし が みえます。
When it gets dark, you can see a lot of stars.
Literally: “dark + becomes + と, + many + の + stars + が + are visible / can be seen.”


Phrase A is:

暗くなる
くらくなる
it gets dark // it becomes dark
Literally: “dark + becomes”


Phrase B is:

たくさんの星が見えます
たくさん の ほし が みえます
you can see a lot of stars
Literally: “many + の + stars + が + are visible / can be seen”


means "if" or "when."
If A, necessarily B.
When A, B.

Thus:


暗くなる、たくさんの星が見えます。
くらくなる と、 たくさん の ほし が みえます。
When it gets dark, you can see a lot of stars.
Literally: “dark + becomes + と, + many + の + stars + が + are visible / can be seen.”


Things to note:

💀 The word/phrase before is in plain form. Here it's a VERB, but it could also be a NOUN or na-adjective followed by a plain-form ending or an i-adjective with a plain-form ending.

💀 Phrase A and B are in the present tense (e.g. 見えます [みえます], not 見えました [みえました]). This is always the case with this usage of .

💀 It is not followed by a volitional phrase, request, etc. That is, Phrase B is not something that is happening because the speakers wills it to happen.


To illustrate that last rule, you could not say:


✕ 6月になる、ロスに遊びに来てください。
✕ ろくがつ に なる と、 ロス に あそび に きて ください。
✕ Please come and visit me in L.A. in June.
✕ Literally: “June + に + becomes + と, + Los (Angeles) + に + please come to play / hang out (=playing + に + come [and] + please).”


Instead, is used to describe inevitable results of conditions (i.e. it describes relationships between things, how things work, etc.):


〇 6月になる、雨が増えます。
〇 ろくがつ に なる と、 あめ が ふえます。
〇 Rain increases in June.
〇 Literally: “June + に + becomes + と, + rain + が + increases.”


↑ There is an exception to this rule, however.

When we are describing a habitual action or something that is always done in a given situation, then Phrase B can be a volitional statement (something that is willed to happen). In such cases, "whenever" can be a good translation:


わたしは風邪をひく、大量のビタミン剤を飲みます。
わたし は かぜ を ひく と、 たいりょう の ビタミンざい を のみます。
Whenever I catch a cold, I take a ton of vitamins.
Literally: “I + は + catch a cold (=cold + を + ひく) + と, + a great deal + の + vitamin pills + を + drink.”


But yeah, usually the speaker won't be controlling the action in Phrase B:


お酒を飲まない、眠れません。
おさけ を のまない と、 ねむれません。
I can’t sleep unless I drink (alcohol).
Literally: “alcohol + を + don’t drink + と, + cannot sleep.”


↑ See how we have a negative verb conjugation before と here? Accordingly, "unless" becomes a better translation than "when."


Starting to feel comfortable with

If so, try taking a look at a handful of more example sentences...


寒い、布団から出られません。
さむい と、 ふとん から でられません。
I can’t get out of bed when it’s cold.
Literally: “cold + と, + futon / bed + from + cannot exit.”


料理が上手だ、異性にもてます。
りょうり が じょうず だ と、 いせい に もてます。
When you’re good at cooking, you're more popular with the opposite sex.
Literally: “cooking + が + skilled + だ + と, + opposite sex + に + are well liked / are popular.”


この問題は子供でない解けません。
この もんだい は こども でない と とけません。
Only children can solve this problem.
Literally: “this + problem + は + child + are not + と + cannot solve.”
Note: This would be a "problem" on a test, for example.


あの橋を渡る、交番があります。
あの はし を わたる と、 こうばん が あります。
If you cross that bridge, there’s a police box at the other side.
Literally: “that + bridge + を + cross + と, + police box (=a small neighborhood police station) + が + there is.”




You can also use in order to urge someone (including yourself) to do something.

In such cases, follows V ない. It is common to leave Phrase B unsaid:


飲みに行く前に、宿題をしない
のみ に いく まえ に、 しゅくだい を しない と。
I’ve gotta do my homework before I go out (drinking).
Literally: “go to drink (=drinking + に + go) + before + に, + homework + を + don’t do + と.”


You don't necessarily have to leave Phrase B unsaid. In this sentence, と could have been followed by things like 困る (こまる // to be troubled) or だめ (not allowed; must not).

Just stopping at と is fine, though.


Here's an example where this is being used to urge someone else to do something:


おじいちゃん、そろそろ出発しない。遅れちゃうよ。
おじいちゃん、 そろそろ しゅっぱつ しない と。 おくれちゃう よ。
Grandpa, we need to get going. We’ll be late.
Literally: “Grandpa, + soon + departing + don’t do + と. + (unfortunately) be late + よ.”




Finished!

We're far from being done with conditionals, but I'd say we're making pretty good progress...




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