What is the difference?

Volitional + とする has also the meaning of "be about to".

Which cases aren't equivalent?

Example #2 in https://jlptsensei.com/learn-japanese-grammar/%E3%82%88%E3%81%86%E3%81%A8%E3%81%99%E3%82%8B-you-to-suru-meaning/

  • お風呂に入ろうとしたら、電話が掛かってきた。 => Just as I was about to take a bath, the phone rang.

What would be the difference with the alternative using ところ:

  • お風呂に入るところだったら、電話が掛かってきた。

2 Answers 2


First, you need to understand the concepts of Verb of volition and Verbs without volition.

In general Verb of volition corresponds to transitive verbs and Verbs without volition to intransitive verbs.

Verbs without volition + ようとしている mean to be about to. A bit formal.


The class is about to start.

Verbs in the volitional form +というところ/ってところ and verbs in the dictionary form + ところだ are similar in use and also mean to be about to regardless of volition.


I'm about to go to explain it to my friend from now.


I'm about to go to work from now.

If you attach with the 意向形 associated with expressions like ときところ etc, They will usually mean to be about to


When I was about to call too, a call from my friend came.

But not necessarily:


Just when I was troubled, she lent a helping hand.

In other cases, ようとする means try to.

It's also worth mentioning that ところ emphasizes the "state" that is being influenced. Constructions like ようとしていたところに literally mean "(right) in the moment when I had volition to do X, Y happens".

  • Thank you, I understand adding ところ means be about to but even just using ようとする. I edited my question.
    – None
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 11:21
  • お風呂に入ろうとしたら would literally mean "(just) when I did it with the volition of entering, action Y came in and was not good". that's why it means "as soon as" or "when one was about to". Don't focus too much on the translation.
    – Manab
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 22:36
  • ところだったら is just not correct and not really used.
    – Manab
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 22:37
  • Why isn't it correct? Which rule does it break? (I understand it isn't used but with an explanation I could remember to avoid using it)
    – None
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 9:57
  • 1
    It's not incorrect grammatically. But the meaning would not be the one you are looking for. It would mean "if it were the place to enter in the ofuro". In the sense that you thought it was the right place. It's not used to mean "as soon as" etc. Therefore the next sentence would not make sense "電話が掛かってきた". Unless you are expecting a call when entering the correct place.
    – Manab
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 10:46

Volitional + とする - shows an interruption of your effort to do an action.

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