I was wondering what the literal translation really means. I've seen it translated as I'm home but I've also seen it in a few situations where the person wasn't arriving home.

  • Almost certainly a duplicate of this one
    – Dave
    May 28 '12 at 12:55
  • 2
    I'm asking for the literal translation. The other thread is talking about various instances where you can use the phrase. I don't see how my question is a duplicate of his question.
    – dotnetN00b
    May 28 '12 at 12:58

The [ただいま]{LHHH} that you say when you arrive home is a contraction of ただ今帰りました.
(ただ = たった/just, 今 = now, 帰りました = (I) came back / came home / returned)

I think one other situation you're talking about might be where you say 「ただいま」, 'Certainly, sir' / 'Yes sir, I'll do that right away' / 'Yes, I'll be right with you', etc., when someone tells you to do something or calls you, and probably rushes you. I think this [ただいま]{LHLL} (with a stress on だ and a falling tone on いま) literally means 'right now' 'right away', like 「(はい、)たった今(行きます/参ります。」 or 「(はい、)今すぐに(します/やります)。」

  • ただ=たった, I've never seen either of those words (used by itself and at all, respectively). The only words I've seen meaning just are だけ、しか. So is たった a verb or an adverb?
    – dotnetN00b
    May 28 '12 at 23:15
  • 2
    ただ is an adverb (ただ can also be used as a noun though, like 「ただの人」(ordinary)「料金はただです」(free of charge)), meaning 'just/only', and it is often used in a set phrase with だけ, ばかり, のみ or しか, like 「ただ月が照るばかりだ」「ただ見つめるだけだった」「ただ命令に従うのみ」「ただ祈るしかなかった」. According to my Japanese dictionary, たった is 「'ただ'の促音化(Sokuon-ka. Sokuon is 'っ'/little つ.)」, meaning 'ほんの', 'only'. e.g.「たったこれだけ」「たった今帰ったところ」「たった10円しか入ってない」.
    – user1016
    May 28 '12 at 23:42
  • That's weird. There were two answers here a few hours ago...
    – dotnetN00b
    May 29 '12 at 5:01
  • @dotnetN00b-san, I can still see Dono-san's answer, which was posted 16 hrs ago and deleted 5 hrs ago. I think you can see it too...? (I don't know StackExchange's system very well, but I have been able to see all deleted answers in JLU since last month or so...)
    – user1016
    May 29 '12 at 5:56
  • 1
    @Chocolate when you get to 2000 reputation points you get access to the moderator tools, which include the ability to view deleted posts: japanese.stackexchange.com/privileges/moderator-tools
    – cypher
    May 29 '12 at 8:38

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