I don't know how to convey the word たら in English in this context

A girl confessed her feelings to her crush, was rejected, and as a consequence she started wondering what "好き" meant.




So, the last sentence is something like "But after the word escaped my mouth, I don't know its real meaning anymore". I think the sentence is a conditional, but たら meaning "if" doesn't make sense in English. たら meaning "when" makes more sense, but the wording is still a bit awkward "When it escaped my mouth, I don't know its real meaning anymore"). I think it probably does mean "when" but I don't know how to properly translate the word integrated to the whole sentence in a way it can convey what the Japanese sentence is expressing. Or does たら have another use here?

any reply is appreciated_!

1 Answer 1


Although たら is often taught initially as a simple conditional corresponding to the English "if", its meaning and use is broader. Rather than a simple "if", see V-たら as a condition for the main clause to take place.

That is: as soon as V happens, something else occurs. Which in some cases is closer to "when", exactly as you said.

Consider this situation. I'm waiting a friend to arrive by train at some station. I could say:

着{つ}いたら連絡{れんらく}してね. When you arrive, give me a call.

or, more literally, contact me. If we exclude extreme (unlikely) cases, we are sure that this person will arrive. So, we don't really see this as "if you arrive", which would leave the possibility that the person will not arrive open.

Another reason to see it as "when", is that たら is the only type of conditional where the result can be in the past. Would be weird to have an “if” when the result has already taken place. These examples are taken from this link.

家に帰ったら、誰もいなかった。 When I went home, there was no one there.

アメリカに行ったら、たくさん太りました。 As a result of going to America, I got really fat.

Other than the link above, I suggest you look at this excellent answer regarding the different types of conditional forms.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .