とき

とき Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Noun

Essential Meaning: At the time when / When

Construction: 

  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + とき
    • E.g. はなとき [When X speaks]
    • E.g. べるとき [When X eats]
  • な-Adjective Stem + [な / だった] + とき
    • E.g. しずかなとき [When X is quiet]
  • Noun + [の / だった] + とき
    • E.g. 先生せんせいとき [When X is a teacher]

Notes:

  • The noun とき (とき in kanji) simply means “Time“, but when used with a modifying clause it means “When“, “At the time when“, or “At the time of“.
    • E.g. 出発しゅっぱつとき [At the time of departure]
    • E.g. 学生がくせいとき [When I was a student]
    • E.g. ジュースがやすとき[At the time when juice is cheap]
  • The clause that precedes とき is a relative clause, so it must follow the rules of relative clauses. Namely:
    • (1) The subject of the relative clause must take the particle if it is different from the subject of the main clause.
      • E.g. メアリーはわたし日本にほんにいたときフランスにいた。[When I was in Japan, Mary was in France.] The subject of the relative clause (i.e. わたし) is marked by , while the subject of the main clause (i.e. メアリー) is marked by .
    • (2) The predicate of the relative clause is typically informal, and the copula だ changes to な for な-Adjectives and の for nouns.
      • E.g. しずかなとき [when X is quiet] しずかか is a な-Adjective, so the copula だ changes to な in a relative clause.
      • E.g. 学生がくせいとき[when X is a student] 学生がくせい is a noun, so the copula changes to の in a relative clause.
  • The time particle after とき is optional. Time is emphasized slightly more when is present, and the action itself is emphasized more when is absent.
    • E.g. わたし学生がくせいときよく勉強べんきょうした。[I studied hard when I was a student.]
    • E.g. わたし学生がくせいときによく勉強べんきょうした。[It was when I was a student that I studied hard.]
  • With the structure Sentence 1 とき Sentence 2, if Sentence 2 is in the past tense and Sentence 1 expresses a state (rather than an action), Sentence 1 can be in either the past or nonpast tense.
    • E.g. わたし日本にほんにいるとき田中たなか先生せんせいった。[When I was in Japan, I met Mr. Tanaka.]
    • E.g. わたし日本にほんにいたとき田中たなか先生せんせいった。[When I was in Japan, I met Mr. Tanaka.]
    • E.g. にくたかときさかなたかかった。[When meat was expensive, fish was also expensive.]
    • E.g. にくたかかったときさかなたかかった。[When meat was expensive, fish was also expensive.]
  • When Sentence 1 in Sentence 1 とき Sentence 2 expresses an action (rather than a state), the meaning of the sentence changes depending on:
    • (1) The tenses of Sentence 1 and Sentence 2:
      • E.g. Present Tense + Present Tense: わたしはごはんべるときあらう。[I wash my hands when I eat meals.]
      • E.g. Past Tense + Present Tense: わたしはごはんべたときあらう。[I wash my hands after I’ve eaten my meals.]
      • E.g. Present Tense + Past Tense: わたしはごはんべるときあらった。[I will have washed my hands when I eat my meals (i.e. I wash my hands right before I eat meals).]
      • E.g. Past Tense + Past Tense: わたしはごはんべたときあらった[I washed my hands right after I finished my meal.]
    • (2) Whether or not the verb is a verb of movement:
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへとき寿司すしべるつもりだ。[I’m going to eat sushi before I leave for / on the way to Chicago.]
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへったとき寿司すしべるつもりだ。[I plan to eat sushi after I’ve arrived in Chicago.]
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへとき寿司すしべた。[I ate sushi before I left for Chicago.]
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへったとき寿司すしべた。[I ate sushi after I arrived in Chicago.]
    • (3) Whether or not the action in Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 take place simultaneously:
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへときくるまく。[When I go to Chicago, I go by car.]
      • E.g. *わたしはシカゴへったときくるまく。[When I went to Chicago, I will have gone by car.] This is ungrammatical.
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへときくるまった。[When I went to Chicago, I went by car.]
      • E.g. わたしはシカゴへったときくるまった。[When I went to Chicago, I went by car.]
  • Note that in English, “When” is often used to express conditions (e.g. “You can watch TV when you finish your homework“; “You’ll be surprised when you see it“) とき is not used in this way because it refers to time in a literal sense. To express a condition, たら or と (Natural Consequence) can be used instead.
    • E.g. それをたらおどろきますよ。[You’ll be surprised when you see that.]
    • E.g. それをるとおどろきますよ。 [You’ll be surprised when you see that.]
    • E.g. *それをときおどろききますよ。[You’ll be surprised when you see that.] とき can not be used to make a conditional statement.
    • E.g. *それをときおどろききますよ。[You’ll be surprised when you see that.] とき can not be used to make a conditional statement.

Example Sentences:

わたし日本にほんにいたときちゃならった。[When I was in Japan, I learned about tea.]

マークは試験しけんときにかぜをひいた。[Mark caught a cold at exam time.]

松本まつもとさんはあさごはんをべるときいつもテレビをる。 [Matsumoto-san always watches TV when he eats breakfast.]

テリーはジュースがやすときにたくさんっておいた。[When the juice was cheap, Terry bought a lot of it.]

ぼくしずかなときしかほんまない。[I only read books when it’s quiet.]

わたし大学生だいがくせいだったときいもうとはまだみっつだった。[When I was a university student, my sister was still only three.]

これは出発しゅっぱつときにわたします。[I’ll give this to you at the time of departure.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:09, listen for this line: 調子ちょうしってはねつづけときピジョンにつかまるよ。[When (Koiking) gets too cocky and bounces around, he gets eaten by a Pidgeotto.]
At 0:45, listen for this line: また人間にんげんもどれたとき毎晩まいばんパーティー![When I’ve returned to human form, I’ll have a party every night!]
At 0:45, listen for: かなしいときうれしいときもなんども上げていた, そのそら [Both during sad times and happy times, I was always looking up at that sky]
At 0:55, listen for this line: その笑顔えがおっているとき本当ほんとうしあわ [When I’m looking at that smile, I’m become truly happy]

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