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I'm tring to read a novel, but am completely dumbfounded with this sentence. Context goes like this:

A: {Suddenly stands up}

B: 「どうしたんですか?」「トイレ?」

C: 「わかんないとこがあった?  私にわかるとこなら教えるけど?」

My questions are:

  • why is it あった and not ある?
  • is こと completely interchangeable with とこ? I see a lot of them in the novel like this another one 俺は壊れたとこがある (which also a complete mystery of a sentence)
  • what is the meaning of 私 にわかる?
  • if 私 にわかる translated as "Want to know from me about it?" then why けど at the end which translates as but/however? (even if my translation of 私 にわかる it still doesn't make sence for me why it's translated like that)
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  • why is it あった and not ある?

Presumably C (or somebody else) was describing something to A just a little bit before this excerpt. As such, the あった refers to what was just said -- "was there something you didn't understand (in whatever was just talked about previously)?" If the speaker had used ある instead, the statement would be a bit vaguer -- "is there something you don't understand (in general, not necessarily in connection with whatever was just talked about previously)?"

  • is こと completely interchangeable with とこ? I see a lot of them in the novel like this another one 俺は壊れたとこがある (which also a complete mystery of a sentence)

No. とこ is a shortening or clipping of ところ.

  • what is the meaning of 私 にわかる?

わかる, like できる, is often translated into English in the active voice: "I understand something, I can do something". However, the Japanese words more accurately describe a quality of the "something": "something is understandable to / by me, something is doable by me". This is why the "something" in both わかる and できる sentences takes the subject particle が instead of the object particle を. The agent (person or thing doing the action) in the English sentences is the subject, and the patient (the "something") is the object. However, in Japanese, the agent is the "something" that is the subject marked with が, and there is no patient or object. Instead, we either use the topic particle は for the person, or the instrumental ("by") particle に.

More broadly, わかる and できる are verbs of potential, which take this same grammatical construction in Japanese. See more about potentials in this question and its answers:

Why doesn't 分かる have a potential form?

  • if 私 にわかる translated as "Want to know from me about it?" then why けど at the end which translates as but/however? (even if my translation of 私 にわかる it still doesn't make sence for me why it's translated like that)

See the previous point about the にわかる construction.

With that in mind, here's a breakdown word-by-word, then a reformulation of that to get a translation in proper English.

私にわかるとこなら教えるけど
me by understandable place/aspect if teach/explain but →
If it's something I understand, I'll explain it [to you]...


Please comment if the above doesn't fully answer your questions.

  • Before this conversation all parties were sitting in silence. The only thing I have omitted is that there was D who before B said 「どうしたんですか?」 but that's all. It also seems like A was reading something. But now that you pointed to it, あった may actually be referred to reading content where I thought it was referring to toilet location or something which means B and C statements are completely unconnected. However I still haven't understand about けど. It seems like it has no actual translation? Also if とこ is ところ then 俺は壊れたとこがある literally means "I have broken place/time/(?)mindset"? – Nexen Sep 12 at 18:39
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    @Nexen: けど is literally "but". In this case, there's no following statement, only an implication. "If it's something I understand, I'll explain it [to you], but (maybe you don't care, maybe it's not something I understand, maybe we don't have time, etc. etc.)". English speakers generally don't leave their "buts" hanging out at the end of sentences. :) Just trailing off with the "..." seems more common among English speakers. – Eiríkr Útlendi Sep 12 at 19:18
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    Never thought about ... as けど. It capsized my view on it. Thanks a lot : ) – Nexen Sep 13 at 5:47

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