From what I've learned when you used verb + たら, you are saying an if condition. While reading I came across:

起きたら生えてたの which I interpretate as "When I woke up, (they) had (already) grew."

Is this correct? sometimes たら or others conditionals works as "when"?


2 Answers 2


Whether to translate it as “when” or “if” is due to a distinction English makes and has little to do with Japanese.

たら focuses on a state where some event has just completed. If that event is hypothetical, “if” would be more appropriate. In your case, the main clause talks about something the speaker actually found out at some point in the past. Then the completed event of her waking up cannot be hypothetical.

I think the term “conditional” is misleading.

  • +1 for emphasizing the difference in language structures. So much confusion arises from trying to understand Japanese after translation into English (or vice versa). Oct 28, 2022 at 4:41

The ~たら ending does indeed also serve as "when", not just "if". One of my Japanese teachers years ago explained this as a contraction from ~てから. While that fits for the meaning, my research over the years into Japanese etymologies suggests that this isn't the derivation.

The ~と conditional could sometimes also be translated as "when".

  • 起きる[と]{●}二日酔いになっているはず
    I expect you'll have a hangover when you wake up.

The ~えば conditional does not have any such "when" connotations.

  • 1
    起きると二日酔いになるはず sounds weird to me. It sounds like you consider the possibility that this person might not wake and if they do, it will automatically result in them getting a hangover. I would say 起きたら二日酔いになっているはず.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 28, 2022 at 2:44
  • Dough mow alligator! Oct 28, 2022 at 2:55

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