と (Natural Consequence) Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Particle
Essential Meaning: If / When
- (Verb / い-Adjective / な-Adjective / Noun + Copula) informal nonpast + と
- E.g. 話すと [If X speaks]
- E.g. 食べると [If X eats]
- E.g. 高いと [If X is expensive]
- E.g. 静かだと [If X is quiet]
- E.g. 先生だと [If X is a teacher]
- The structure Sentence 1 と Sentence 2 represents a situation in which the action or situation in Sentence 1 naturally brings about the action or state in Sentence 2. For example, if I drop a ball, it will naturally fall to the floor due to gravity; the falling is a natural consequence of the dropping. As another example, if I touch a hot stove, my hand will hurt; the hurting is a natural consequence of the touching.
- E.g. タイヤは古いと危ないですよ。[If the tires are old, they’re dangerous.] The implication here is that becoming more dangerous is a natural consequence of the aging of tires.
- Because Sentence 2 represents a non-controllable situation (i.e. a situation not brought about by human agency), Sentence 2 can not be an expression of human agency such as a command, a request, a suggestion, an invitation, or a volitional statement. All of the following examples are therefore ungrammatical following.
- E.g. Command: *仕事が早く終わると私のうちに来なさい。[If you finish work early, come to my house.]
- E.g Request: *仕事が早く終わると来てください。[If you finish work early, please come.]
- E.g. Suggestion: *仕事が早く終わると来たらどうですか。[If you finish work early, why don’t you come?]
- E.g. Invitation: *仕事が早く終わると来ませんか。[If you finish work early, would you like to come?]
- E.g. Volitional Statement: *仕事が早く終わるとおうちにお伺いします。[If I finish work early, I will go to your house.]
- Note that Sentence 1 in the structure Sentence 1 と Sentence 2 must be non-past even if it represents a nonpast event. The overall tense is expressed in Sentence 2.
- E.g. それは先生に聞くとすぐ分かった。[When I asked the teacher that, I understood immediately.] Sentence 2 is in the past tense, which indicates that the overall situation occurred in the past.
ニューヨークに行くとおもしろい店がたくさんある。[If you go to New York, there are many interesting shops.]
それは先生に聞くとすぐ分かった。[When I asked the teacher that, I understood immediately.]
タイヤは古いと危ないですよ。[If the tires are old, they’re dangerous.]
魚が嫌いだと日本へ行った時困りますか。[If you don’t like fish, will you have a difficult time in Japan?]
学生だと割引があります。[If you’re a student, there’s a discount.]
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