743 - と~た ([discovery])

JLPT N4: と~た ・ ~たら~た (when...; to find...)

By following「Vる」or「Vたら 」with a phrase in the past tense, we can describe the discovery of something which had happened or was happening.

For example:


冷蔵庫を開ける、巨大なケーキがありまし
れいぞうこ を あけると、 きょだいな ケーキ が ありました。
When I opened the fridge, there was a huge cake in there. // I opened the fridge to find a gigantic cake.
Literally: “refrigerator + を + open + と, + huge / gigantic + cake + が + there was.”

Note that the phrase coming after or ~たら will always be in past tense (this includes past progressive ~ていた, by the way).

The subjects in Phrase 1 and Phrase 2 will differ. In the above sentence, "I" is the (unspoken) subject of Phrase 1 and "cake" is the subject of Phrase 2.

Since we can use either or ~たら, it also would have been possible to say:


冷蔵庫を開けたら、巨大なケーキがありまし
れいぞうこ を あけたら、 きょだいな ケーキ が ありました。
When I opened the fridge, there was a huge cake in there. // I opened the fridge to find a gigantic cake.
Literally: “refrigerator + を + when (I) opened, + huge / gigantic + cake + が + there was.”


What do you think? Not too hard?

How about some more examples...


家に帰る、親戚が遊びに来てい
いえ に かえると、 しんせき が あそび に きていた。
When I got home, my relatives were there. // I got home to find that my relatives were visiting.
Literally: “home + に + return home + と, + relatives + が + were visiting (=playing + に + were coming).”

靴の底をたら、ガムがくっついていまし
くつ の そこ を みたら、 ガム が くっついていました。
When I looked at the sole of my shoe, there was gum on it. // I looked at the sole of my shoe to find that I’d stepped in gum.
Literally: “shoe + の + bottom / sole + を + when (I) looked + gum + が + was being stuck to it.”


Remember how I said that Phrase 2 will be in the past tense?

Look at what happens when it's not in the past tense...


電車を降りる、海が見えます。
でんしゃ を おりると、 うみ が みえます。
When you get off the train, you can see the ocean.
Literally: “train + を + get off + と, + sea + が + is visible / can be seen.”

↑ That's describing an ongoing state. An ongoing rule, if you will. Whenever you get off the train, you can see the ocean. This is the usage of that we saw in the last lesson: [NDL #742] - JLPT N4: と ([conditional] when; once).

When Phrase 2 is in the past tense, it becomes a description of a specific point in time:


電車を降りる、海が見えまし
でんしゃ を おりると、 うみ が みえました。
When I got off the train, I could see the ocean.
Literally: “train + を + get off + と, + sea + が + was visible / could be seen.”


The uses of「Vる 」and「Vたら 」that we're seeing in this lesson are common when the thing in Phrase 2 is surprising or unexpected:


電気をつける、僕のまくらの上に猫がいまし
でんき を つけると、 ぼく の まくら の うえ に ねこ が いました。
I turned on the light to find the cat lying on my pillow.
Literally: “electricity / light + を + turn on + と, + I + の + pillow + の + above + に + cat + が + there was.”


起きたら、もう夕方でし
おきたら、 もう ゆうがた でした。
When I woke up, it was already evening.
Literally: “when (I) woke up, + already + evening + でした.”


That's all for this one. It's a pretty useful construction, so try it out, yeah?





Noticed any typos we've missed or other issues?
Report them here at this link.

Have questions about something in this lesson? Something not quite clicking yet? Join our discord community and discuss any questions / comments with us and fellow students.
You can join by heading to this link.