3

I found 気付けば/気がつけば translated "Before I knew it" in two occasions:

気がつけば茜色の雲のスクリーンに瞼の裏の暗幕にリフレインする

気付けばレベル9とかになっちまって

I know as conditional, and I can't find in my grammars or on online dictionaries why it should mean "Before I knew it" instead of "If I knew it"; I noticed both times it's used with 気付く/気がつく, so I was wondering if it some sort of special case, but I didn't find anything about that, neither.

Can that form take both meaning of "If I knew it" and "Before I knew it"? If so, is the context the only way to see which one is meant?

2

On thesaurus.weblio we get the following definition:

ふと注意を向けたらすでに事が起こっていた様子

Which I'd roughly translate as "Something that, when you turned the attention to, had already happened."

So I'd say that "Before I knew it" is a pretty good translation, don't you think?

It seems to be just an idiomatic expression in japanese. Literally, it means "when I realized", but when actually used it usually means "before I knew it".

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