My translation attempt:

Despite the muscle pain he finished as usual, about the time he intended to come back home, Rize turned up.

3 Answers 3


(0) そろそろ家に戻ろうというところにリーゼがやってきた。

  • the questioner: ..., about the time he intended to come back home, Rize turned up.
  • kandyman: Just as he was thinking of heading home, Rize came along.

If you interpret the interpretation by the questioner or in the kandyman's answer, it seems that one of the following (1) to (4) could be applied in Japanese.
Of course, I think that both interpretations reflect the meaning of (0) in the original text, but the problem is that they do not directly explain the existance of "か" along with a volitional form in (0) posted as a question.

(1) そろそろ家に戻ろうとするタイミングのところにリーゼがやってきた。
(2) そろそろ家に戻ろうと考えているところにリーゼがやってきた。
(3) そろそろ家に戻ろうと考えているタイミングにリーゼがやってきた。
(4) そろそろ家に戻ろうと考えているちょうどその時にリーゼがやってきた。

As for the か, I think it is a short form of the following phrases like:

(5) そろそろ家に戻ろうかどうかというところにリーゼがやってきた。
(6) そろそろ家に戻ろうかどうしようかというところにリーゼがやってきた。


As I got a comment from personanongrata, I reconsidered my answer.

In the interpretation of "か" in (5) and (6) in my original answer, besides the option to return home, there is another option not to return home, but from the context of (0), there is, I think, only an option to return home. Therefore, I judged the interpretation of (5) and (6) as mistakes, so I would post (7) or (8) as the interpretation of "か" instead.

(7) そろそろ家に戻ろうかなあというところにリーゼがやってきた。
(8) そろそろ家に戻ろうかなあと考えているところにリーゼがやってきた。

  • "Despite the muscle pain he finished as usual, about the time he was thinking whether or not to come back home, Rize turned up". Then this one would be closer to the original? Sep 22, 2017 at 7:49
  • 1
    @personanongrata: I think (1) to (6) have alomost the same meaning and I also think the interpretation by the questioner is good for (0). But, only (5) and (6) have the answer how the か is understood in Japanese.
    – user20624
    Sep 22, 2017 at 8:01

If it was just 戻るところ it would mean that he was actually in the process of starting his return. The decision to return has already been made and it is now about to be carried out.

By using 戻ろうか it indicates that the person was intending to return, or in the process of considering it, but had not begun the actual movement of returning since the decision has not been finalized. In addition, the というところ indicates that it was just at that moment when the person was considering returning that Rize turned up.

I'd translate it like this:

"Although plagued by muscle pains, he finished up as usual. Just as he was thinking of heading home, Rize came along."

  • Yes, but isn't the question why か is there, along the volitional form, not what's the difference between 戻ろう and 戻る? In other words shouldn't the answer compare 戻ろうかというところ with 戻ろうというところ?
    – macraf
    Sep 22, 2017 at 1:35
  • It's like asking himself, "guess I should return?" hence the か
    – keithmaxx
    Sep 22, 2017 at 2:44
  • 戻ろうというところ is ungrammatical - that's why I didn't compare those two.
    – kandyman
    Sep 22, 2017 at 21:57

Personally I would consider the 「そろそろ家に戻ろうか」 part of this sentence to be a sort of quote of the subject's thoughts. The quotative particle と is quite flexible in its usage, and so the line between direct quotes and indirect quotes in Japanese can be a bit blurred - in this case the text isn't literally quoting him, but is using a quote-style phrase as a way of expressing his mental state at the time.

As such, the reason why ~戻ろうというところに and ~戻ろうかというところに are both equally possible is because spoken phrases like 「さあ、家に戻ろう」 and 「さあ、家に戻ろうか」 are both roughly equivalent ways of expressing the same sentiment of "Right, seems about time to go home". The version with か is perhaps a little less definite since it's phrased as a rhetorical question, but in practice there isn't much difference in nuance.

On a less related note, the translation of 一通り as "as usual" strikes me as a little off. While it can imply some nuance of habitual action, the basic meaning of 一通り is more like "the whole thing", in the sense of "finishing up everything he had to do", "finishing up the full routine" or something along those lines. (The difference from words like 全部 is that it indicates more of a general "covering all the important parts" or "getting to a good stopping point" rather than "taking care of every last thing".)

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