How exactly is たら operating here? My understanding is that in the non-past, たら designates temporal antecedence.



2 Answers 2


~たら as a verb suffix has two basic functions:

  • Expressing temporal antecedence, as basically a synonym for (possibly contraction from?) ~てから -- 「A[VERB]たらB」 means "A [VERB], then B".
  • Expressing conditionality, similar to English "if" -- 「A[VERB]たらB」 means "if A [VERB], then B".

You'll notice that these translate to almost the same thing in English. Whether to include the conditionality of "if...then", or only the temporality of "...then", is a matter of context.

In the specific context of your sample text, it seems that the "if" sense must be the one intended. Here's one possible translation:

What if you picked some flowers, brought them along and gave them [to her]...?

  • Does the English phrase "What if...?" express suggestion, invitation, recommendation, or advice (提案・勧誘・助言), like "Why don't you...?" "How about...?" "You should...", or 「...たら?」 in question here?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 0:46
  • @Chocolate: "Does [this] express suggestion, invitation, recommendation, or advice?" -- yes. :) It's a very open-ended expression, which could express all of these, depending on the context of the utterance. In the example above, it's a bit between a suggestion for what to do, and an invitation to think about what would happen if the listener took that suggestion. Also parse-able as gentle advice. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 0:48
  • Then, when 狼 says to 赤ずきん "What if you picked some flowers, brought them along and gave them [to her]...?", it means he's suggesting/advising she should go pick up flowers and bring them to her grandma?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:00
  • Yeah, 花を摘んで持っていってあげる is 花を摘んで, pick flowers, + 持っていってあげる = 持っていく for someone = bring for someone. 持っていく is one verb phrase (連語) for "bring". ~てあげる here is a subsidiary verb "doing for her", attached to 持っていく. It's not 持って、行ってあげる (carry, and go for her), nor 持って、行って、あげる (carry, go, and give), nor 持っていって、あげる (bring, and give)
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:08
  • @Chocolate, cheers! Looping back to the "what if" sense, this is similar to the expression "how about". The basic intention is to prompt the listener to think about what comes after that. For "what if", that's usually about doing something, whereas "how about" could suggest a thing rather than an action. Prompting the listener this way could be interpreted as a suggestion, as advice, as an invitation, or as a recommendation. Depending on context, this could even have a negating intention -- "what if you [did something dumb]" → suggestion/advice/etc. to not do that dumb thing. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:17

Using たら in a question at the end of a sentence is a way of giving advice or suggesting something. It can come off rude if you use it with someone you aren't familiar with though.

In the text you provided, the wolf is suggesting bringing flowers by saying 持っていってあげたら? It's similar to saying "Why don't you..." in English.

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