Sorry if something similar has already been asked, but I can't seem to get my head round translating this sentence.

  • 好きな人に告白したら、サインを貰いました。(This comes from a manga xD)

I get the gist of the sentence, in that it means something like "I confessed to the person I like, but I received his signature instead" or "Even though I confessed to the person I like, I received his signature instead". Any idea on how to interpret the use of 〜たら here? Because I don't think that's a conditional sentence...

Thanks :)

  • That's a conditional sentence though. The sentence is at the past which only means the condition has been fulfilled. – oldergod Nov 27 '14 at 2:37

When the second half of a sentence using ~たら is in the past tense, it's always "when". In addition, サイン here is, I would think, more naturally translated as "autograph".

When I confessed to the guy I like, he gave me his autograph.

While in this case the action in the second half (receiving the autograph) happened upon the fulfilment of the condition in the first (confessing), it is also possible to use たら where the conditional part is the act that caused the speaker to find out about something.

When I returned home, he wasn't there.

"He" may have left some time before the speaker returned home, so the conditional part here didn't necessarily cause the person to leave or disappear. However the speaker returning home was the condition for them finding out that he wasn't there.


~たら Can also be used as "when" which it seems like it would work here.


If/When in English are so clear cut and used to contracts situations, it's hard to wrap your head around them sometimes. For translation purposes, there are many times when it's either. One of my favorites which is very common is when someone may or may not join you later (usually not): 行けたらいく. I'll go when I can. I'll go if I can. Either work. :-/

  • 1
    What does that "Japanese" sentence even mean? – l'électeur Nov 28 '14 at 6:09
  • Whoops. For got the tags. It's two examples. Should be good now. – kiss-o-matic Nov 28 '14 at 13:55

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