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All About Japanese Particles: – たら (- tara)

[Serie: All About Japanese Particles]

1. Indicates a supposition and result: “if … then.”

Note: This usage is similar to -ba (#34, no. 1), although -tara sounds somewhat more gentle. -Tara is likely to be used when the result is an intention, request (command), or question.

Sono ryōri ga amari karakattara, watashi wa tabenai wa.
If that dish is too spicy, I won’t eat it.

Kare ni attara, yoroshiku to itte kudasai.
If you see him, give him my regards (say hello).

Yamada-san no tsugō ga warukattara, dare ni wāpuro o tanomi-mashō ka.
If Yamada is busy (unavailable, occupied, is otherwise engaged), who shall we ask to do the word processing?

2. Used at the end of a sentence to indicate a proposal; used often by women: “how about, why not.”

Mō osoi kara, sono shigoto ashita ni nasattara.
It’s late, so why not do that work tomorrow.

Sore wa chiisai kara, kochira no ōkii no o okai ni nattara.
That one is small, so why not buy this big one [instead].

3. Used at the end of a sentence to indicate irritation or impatience, with a meaning something like “I tell you, I’m telling you.”

Note: Whereas with the above usages -tara is added to a verb stem in the same way as the past-tense ending -ta, in this usage –ttara is added to the -te and –nasai form of verbs.

Hayaku shite-ttara
C’mon, get a move on!

Mō nenasai-ttara.
Get to bed, I say [I’m telling you]!

4. Indicates an action which is followed by something being learned: “when.”

Note: To (#6, III-4) is similar to -tara in this usage.

Tomodachi no ie e ittara, kare wa rusu datta.
When I went to my friend’s house, [I found that) he was out. / I went to my friend’s home, but he was out.

Hoteru ni denwa o shitara, heya wa ippai datia.
When I called the hotel, [I found that) all the rooms were full. / I called the hotel, but all the rooms were taken.

5. Indicates that one action follows immediately upon another: “when, as soon as.”

Watashi ga koe o kaketara kite kudasai.
Please come [right away] when I call you.

Kono shigoto ga owattara, sochira e ikimasu.
I’ll be there as soon as this work is done [as soon as I’m finished here].

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words


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