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I'm confused about how と is used in this sentence (乗るとすぐメールを・・・)... What purpose does it serve?

電車の中では携帯で話すことはできませんが、みんな電車に乗るとすぐメールを熱心に打っているのにびっくりました。

Thank you!

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, as you probably know, is usually "and". Just like in English, you can use "and" to connect actions, essentially saying "and then..."

So, 乗るとすぐメールを・・・ means roughly something like, "they get on and soon they mail...". Given the context of the longer sentence, it's saying "they get on the train and then they soon start mailing with their phone..."

Someone can probably give a more detailed explanation of the exact grammatical form is taking in this context, but I hope that what I've said here helps you work out the rest of the sentence! :)

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Thank you! The only thing I am confused about then is why と is used here, rather than て-form? Isn't て-form usually used to connect phrases with "and," (ミルクをかって飲みました) and と used to connect nouns (家族と友達)? –  yobisute Sep 13 '13 at 17:23
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I wouldn't say と is usually "and". I would call this と something like the "consequential-と". Although it's not in the question, it is addressed in the accepted answer in this post: Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc. –  istrasci Sep 13 '13 at 17:25
    
@yobisute: I'm no expert, but I think the form of verbs has a nuance of one action having the purpose of creating the other. You bought the milk so that you could drink it. Whereas using connects actions in terms of order and result. You got on the train and then used your phone, but didn't necessarily get on the train for the purpose of using your phone. –  Dave M G Sep 13 '13 at 17:28
    
@istrasci: I just meant that the most basic use of , and the one people learning Japanese are first introduced to, is as a simple "and", like in りんごとオレンジとバナナ. –  Dave M G Sep 13 '13 at 17:31
    
Ahh, that all makes sense. Thank you both! –  yobisute Sep 13 '13 at 17:34
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This と means "when", not "and".

That it might make sense "in English" if you use "and" when translating the sentence into English is of little importance as we are discussing Japanese here.

「 (Verb phrase A) + と + すぐ + (Verb phrase B)」 =

"(B happens) as soon as (A happens)." or

"(B happens) in no time when/whenever (A happens)."

I am sure some of you have seen this と when it means "if". Its usage as "when" is actually very similar to that.

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And how is "and then" different from saying "when"? –  Dave M G Feb 13 at 6:10
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