Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

First, I came across this sentence using と in a way I've never encountered before.

ピノキオはうそを吐くと、鼻が長くなります。

My translation: When/As Pinocchio tells lies his nose becomes longer.

After a little research and based on the context of the sentence I figured this use of と must mean 'when' or 'as' as opposed to the 'and' meaning but then I started wondering what the difference is between this 'when' and the 時【とき】 'when' and the たら 'when' in terms of usage.

share|improve this question
    
Do you focus on “one-time when” e.g. 戸を開けて見ると誰もいない or “recurring when” as in “春になると花が咲く”. I think they will make great difference. (All とき, と, たら, ば have these two usages) –  Yang Muye Apr 27 at 16:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

They could all be translated to 'when' in English but:

AとB in this case indicates that A first happens, then immediately after B happens. This is the case in your example!

たら can have more uncertainty in it, i.e. it can be used to express sentences where you'd use 'if' in English.

I think of とき as 'the time when' or 'everytime when'.

Just offering my two cents here. I am still learning too!:) I'm not good enough to provide the lengthy grammatical replies you usually get on this site, so sorry if it's a bit short. Anyway, at this level I find shorter answers more helpful. Hope you agree:)

share|improve this answer
1  
You use と when B always happens when A happens (as in a rule). I think that's why it was used here: Pinocchio's nose grows every time he tells a lie. –  Szymon Apr 27 at 20:11
    
Good answer, but the last paragraph is both irrelevant to the topic of the question, and not appropriate for this site. If you want to build a consensus on what length answers should be on the site, take it up on JLU Meta. It's also a little disrespectful... the people who write long answers are trying to be helpful by being complete, and even if it's not for you, some people appreciate that effort. –  Questioner Apr 28 at 2:58
2  
I don't think the intent of that comment was to speak down on the concept of long answers. I agree that short and simple answers are probably more helpful to people at lower levels of learning even if they gloss over some finer details. –  ssb Apr 28 at 6:39
    
That was definitely not the intention of my last paragraph:) edited now! –  kinbiko Apr 28 at 16:53

Causality

In broad terms, I've noticed three kinds of constructions that loosely correlate to "if / then". The main differences between these appear to be differences in emphasis and causal relationship.

  • 行くと XX
    Tells us whenever someone goes, XX happens. XX is an inevitable consequence of the verb.
  • 行けば XX
    Tells us that only if someone goes, XX happens. The verb is a precondition of XX.
  • 行ったら XX
    Seems to be the most neutral. If [verb], then XX; or possibly, after [verb], then XX. This is less causally strict, and seems a bit more casual in that respect: "if you happen to go, or on the off chance that you go, then XX".

Timing

Various constructions are used to describe the order of events. Among these,

  • 行くと XX
    This still has strong causal overtones, so this is probably best glossed as "whenever [verb], XX".
  • 行ったら
  • 行ってから
    These two are often regarded as synonymous when describing the order of events. One teacher of mine even suggested that -たら was a contraction of -てから, though it bears noting that Shogakukan, Daijirin, and others state that the -たら ending is the potential form of past auxiliary た, itself a contraction of たる, a contraction of て + ある.
    The basic sense is "[verb] happens, and then ..."
  • 行くとき
    Literally, "the time when [subject] goes". This more specifically refers to the point in time when the [verb] happens.
share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.