357 - たり~たりする (do... and do)

JLPT N5: たり~たりする

You know that time--when someone asks you what you will do on New Year's Eve, and you know it's just going to be a boring get-together with your family?

That's where you want to only say a little bit, not too much, to keep it short and not to hold the other up to talk all about their cool trip they have planned.

"I'll go meet my relatives, and go visit family members' graves, and so on."

...Yeah. Not really that exciting, I guess.


But what if we want to say that in Japanese?

お正月には、親戚と会ったり、墓参りに行ったりします。
おしょうがつ に は、 しんせき と あったり、 はかまいり に いったり します。
I'll do things like meeting my relatives and going to visit family members' grave.
Literally: "New Year's Eve + に + は + relatives + と + (do things like) meeting + grave visiting + に + (do things like) going + to do"
Note: 墓参り, the practice of visiting the graves of deceased family members, is very common in Japan, particularly on special occasions.

So, what is going on here?
たり is used to list activities in an in-exhaustive manner. That means, it suggests that there are more things done than is mentioned, either because you don't want to or you don't know everything yourself, either.

In this last sentence you can see that the speaker just mentioned meeting his family and visiting the grave. But it suggests that he also did some more, like eating together at a nice restaurant, eating lots of holiday cooking, etc.


We use the form

V(past) + たり

...and add a する after the last verb that you want to list. Here's a quick example:

presentpastたり-form
食べる ⇒ 食べた ⇒ 食べたりする
たべる たべた たべたり
eat ate (do things like) eating

飲む ⇒ 飲んだ ⇒ 飲んだりする
のむ のんだ のんだり
drink drank (do things like) drinking

You probably already saw that I translated these words with the present tense, even though it was formed very similarly to the past tense. This is just something you have to look out for, because the actual indicator for the tense is the する part at the end.

So 食べたりした translates to "I did things like eating". You also have to remember to include する at the end, it is necessary 100% of the time at the end of your enumeration.

We can also just go ahead and combine both of the examples to make a sentence:

食べたり飲んだりする
たべたり のんだり する
I do things like eating and drinking.

I hope you can see how this works now.


So let's leave all this talk behind and look at some concrete sentences:

大きくなったら、ジャングルを探検したり、すごい発明をしたりしたいです。
おおきく なったら、 ジャングル を たんけん したり、 すごい はつめい を したり したいです。
When I'm older, I want to do stuff like exploring the jungle and making cool inventions!
Literally: "Big + become (then) + jungle + を + exploration + (do things like) do + amazing + invention + を + (do things like) do + want to do + です
Note: For する-verbs (Noun + する), you also first write したり and then する again. So you get constructs like this one: 探検したりする; "to do things like exploring." This is something to get used to.


昨日は大掃除をしたり、買い物に行ったりして、忙しかった。
きのう は おおそうじ を したり、 かいもの に いったりして、 いそがしかった。
Yesterday I cleaned the whole house, went shopping, and did some other stuff, so I was very busy!
Literally: "Yesterday + は + major cleanup + を + (do things like) doing + shopping + に + (do things like) going + do (and) + have been busy"


バーで人々がお酒を飲んだり踊ったりしています
バー で ひとびと が おさけ を のんだり、 おどったりしています。
People at the bar are drinking alcohol, dancing, and so on.
Literally: "Bar + で + people + が + alcohol + を + (do things like) drinking + (do things like) dancing + are doing"


いつかお金持ちになってコックを雇ったりしたい
いつか おかねもち に なって コック を やとったりしたい。
I want to get rich someday and do things like hiring a personal chef.
Literally: "Someday + rich + に + become (and) + chef + を + (do things like) hiring + want to do"
Note: You can also just use one verb as well, so to just give an idea of what kind of things you will do.


浮気したりしないでね。
うわき したりしないで ね。
Don't cheat on me or anything, OK?
Literally: "cheating / affairs + (do things like) doing + don't do + ね"


When explaining たり~たりする, it comes down to using "do" much too often in literal translation, so that the word starts to make no sense anymore. I hope you still got the message of these explanations.

If the word "do" lose meaning for you... I'm sorry.


Bonus Sentence:

この間のベトナム旅行では、日本では見たことのないものを食べたり飲んだりした。
このあいだ の ベトナムりょこう で は、 にほん で は みた こと の ない もの を たべたり のんだり した。
On my recent trip to Vietnam, I ate and drank all kids of things that I've never seen in Japan.
Literally: "recently + の + Vietnam + trip + では, + Japan + では + have never seen (=saw + こと + の + don't have / there isn't) + thing + を + (doing things like) eating (and) + (doing things like) drinking (and) + did."


This lesson was written by Dennis, a guest contributor:





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