I've come across the following sentence while watching a show :


...which, according to the subtitles, translates as :

[She] won't stop after coming all this way.

I had a rough idea of what this meant without the subtitles, but I'm unclear on how it works grammatically : why is the ーたり suffix used here? Why not simply use something like 立ち止まらない ?


In addition to the basic usage of giving examples, you can use たり with some "unlikely" thing and emphasize how unexpected or extraordinary it is. It can be translated in many ways.

  • 彼、本気だったりして! Maybe he is serious!
    (~たりして is a set phrase)
  • 地図を持っていたりしますか? By any chance, do you have a map?
  • 私は彼の友達だったりする。 I happen to be his friend.
  • 負けたりするなよ。 Don't you ever lose!
    (as compared to 負けるなよ, this sounds less serious, or implies the speaker believes the listener is unlikely to lose)

こんな所で立ち止まったりしない is close to the fourth one above; This たり emphasizes how unexpected 立ち止まる is in the context.

  • So with either positive or negative use, it is the positive case that is unlikely?
    – max
    Dec 13 '21 at 3:57
  • @max It can refer to both "unlikely but desirable" events and "unlikely but undesirable" events. 地図を持ってたりしますか is about an unlikely but desirable event.
    – naruto
    Dec 13 '21 at 4:02

I came across a study on the usage of -tari constructions. I must admit I don't fully understand it, but here is what I could glean from the paper.

Typical constructions with only one -tari phrase instead of two can be used to set a situational frame, inviting the listener to focus on characteristics of a situation. Doing this can achieve the following effects:

  1. Softening


    It's better not to meet up with him for the time being.

    Rather than「会わないほうがいい」which is a direct advice, using 「会ったりしないほうがいい」couches the specific advice as an example and has a cushioning effect.

  2. Emphasis


    There's no way I would let my girlfriend pay for this.

    Adding 「たり」 implies that there are other examples along the same intention. However, the effect of omitting these other examples is to focus the listener’s attention on the characteristics of the specified action (perhaps from the speaker’s point of view that letting a girl pay is not a 'masculine' thing to do) and in turn putting an emphasis to the speaker's denial.

  3. Judgement


    Why did you invite someone like him/her?

    This can be extended from the previous function. By directing the listener to focus on the characteristics of the example provided (あんな人を誘う), it adds a layer of judgement on the action.


The structure したりしない is stronger than a simple negative, also meaning "never". But also meaning "(not even (extreme situation)) wouldn't do it."

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