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I'm a bit confused as to why the following sentence is wrong.

私はその人と話すと喫茶店{きっさてん}に行きます。

The book says

The event described by the second clause must follow the event described in the first half of the sentence.

But doesn't きっさてんにいきます happen because of その人と話す?

Here are a couple of other samples sentences from the same sub section to provide more context.

  • 夜になると町が静かになります。
  • 秋になると木が赤くなります。
  • わたしはこどものとき、ふゆになるとかぜをひきました。

Thank you in advance!

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I think if you said

私はその人と話すため、喫茶店に行きます。

with the meaning "[in order] to talk to that person, I [will] go to a cafe."

then that could work.

But I'm not following

私はその人と話すと喫茶店に行きます。

= "I to talk with that person and go to the cafe." ?

or "when I talk to the person, then I go to the cafe" ?

Or at least that's what would do for me meaningwise.

If the と you're using is the one for conditionals, then it takes on a meaning of "when" as in when the condition preceded by と is met, then the second half follows.

私はその人と話すと、喫茶店に入る許可をもらいました。

= if/when I talk to that person, I receive permission to enter the cafe. (apparently it's a pretty exclusive joint!)

I think that's what the book is trying to tell you. Or rather と has a 前後関係 not matched by the other conditionals possible in Japanese such that the left precedes the right.

AとB means whenever in the sense of "Whenever A has occurred, then B always occurs after that" or "After A has happened, then B happens." Thus, it's the best way to translate "if, then" sentences in logic. It does not refer to concurrent events of A and B, because it temporally distinguishes the events.

  • Hey @virmaior thanks for the reply. I've added more context, essentially the chapter's about whenever. So what I got from the sentence was whenever I talk to that person we go to a cafe and I'm not quite sure why that is wrong or is my translation just wrong. – John Mar 7 '16 at 13:52
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    AとB always means after A, then B. If you want to say "whenever I talk to this person, we go to the cafe" then この人と話す(とき/場合)、喫茶店に行きます – virmaior Mar 7 '16 at 14:30
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Think of this 〜と pattern as "B is a natural/obvious result of A happening". Here's a classic textbook example:

  • エレベーターのボタンを押すと、ドアが開きました。 → "When I pressed the elevator('s) button, the door opened." or "I pressed the button, and the door opened."

So when your book says "The event described by the second clause must follow the event described in the first half of the sentence", this is not incorrect, but it's a bit misleading. It means to logically follow as a result, not just follow temporally.

This is why the first sentence is incorrect; going to a coffee shop is not an obvious/natural result of talking to someone. If it were, everyone would like permanently be in, or going to, coffee shops.

So if you just remember the "natural/obvious result" thing, it should make this pattern easier to remember and use. Because of this, the B can rarely (never?) be something subjective like a decision, since an action based on your own discretion is not likely to be obvious to everyone.

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