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"when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

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"when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby CardinalGuy724 » Tue 11.22.2011 7:32 am

**As a disclaimer I could be vastly mistaken and if I am, then I do apologize and hope someone corrects me!

So when using とき to mean "when", sentences follow this pattern: A とき B (When A, then B). But whether A is grammatically past or present is dependent upon whether or not A happened before or after (or during) B, regardless of whether B itself is present or past.

So for instance in the grammar guide I saw this sentence: フロリダに行くときはおみやげを買います。http://thejapanesepage.com/grammar/toki_tara_to
When I go to Florida, I will buy souvenirs.

But I feel that this should be フロリダに行ったときはおみやげを買います。

This is because even though "buying souvenirs" is a future action that has yet to take place, it still occurs AFTER one has arrived in France. So in this case "A" occurs in the past relative to B and thus should be grammatically in the past tense to show that relationship.

The sentence, the way it is now with "A'" in the present tense, implies that the person will buy souvenirs before heading off to France and then bring them with him, which wouldn't make any sense.

So to recap there are 4 possible scenarios here:
Past-Past フランスに行ったときおみやげを買いました
Past-Future フランスに行ったときおみやげを買います
Present-Past 寝るとき歯を磨いた
Present-Present 寝るとき歯を磨く

There is additionally one more scenario. If the "when clause" is a state of being (ie-an adjective) it is always present tense. For instance 悲しいとき泣きます/悲しいとき泣きました. Since being sad is a state of being, it is in present tense. And of course nouns connect with the の particle so you don't have to worry about tense there (ie 子供のとき)

I think the proper use of とき is often ignored by Japanese learners and I think it'd be great if TheJapanesePage made a note about the nuances of how to use the expression somewhere.

**Again as a disclaimer I am not a native speaker and this is just how I learned way back when when I was first learning Japanese. It's been many years since then and there's the chance that my memory of the rules concerning this topic has faded a bit.
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby Hyperworm » Tue 11.22.2011 10:57 am

If we consider "going to Florida" to include the time spent in Florida (which works in English - "I went to Florida for a week" doesn't mean you took a week to actually get there), then the following interpretations drop out:

フロリダに行くときはおみやげを買います。
When I go to Florida, I [will] buy souvenirs (during, while I'm there).
フロリダに行ったときはおみやげを買います。
After I have been to Florida, I [will] buy souvenirs.

I could be mistaken too, so let's wait for someone else... :D
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby Ongakuka » Tue 11.22.2011 1:17 pm

フロリダに行ったときはおみやげを買います
 

To put it short, I agree with Hyperwormさん about this. The only way it sounds passable to me is if you were trying to stress the fact that you won't buy omiyage until you've been to Florida.

If you start a sentence with 行ったとき, the listener is most likely to assume you are talking about something in the past (but perhaps that is irrelevant.)

On the other hand, フロリダに行くときはおみやげを買います seems fine :think: if not a bit redundant (you could just say 行ったら買います)
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby CardinalGuy724 » Tue 11.22.2011 4:10 pm

Ongakuka wrote:
フロリダに行ったときはおみやげを買います
 

If you start a sentence with 行ったとき, the listener is most likely to assume you are talking about something in the past (but perhaps that is irrelevant.)



I feel like perhaps a native English speaker learning Japanese might assume you are talking about something in the past tense as that is what they are used to in English, but a native Japanese speaker may not make that same assumption?

But your and Hyperworm's interpretation of the Florida sentence do seem valid. I didn't think of it like that before. However, there definitely are sentences where it is very clear cut that event A happened either before or after event B and not during, like going to Florida.

For instance, let's say the sentence was "I got a passport when I went to florida". "Getting a passport is clearly an event that had to happen before going to Florida, there are no overlaps, so even though the sentence is past tense, the "when clause" should be future tense フロリダに行くときパスポートをもらった。

My initial concern was just that there is no mention anywhere on the site about the nuances of the temporal relation of events in when clauses in Japanese. Perhaps the initial sentence I found on the grammar site isn't as wrong as I thought, but the explanation given I think simplified the use of とき too much.
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby Hektor6766 » Tue 11.22.2011 7:25 pm

I found this at alc:

目標を見失わないで。困った時は、友人にアドバイスを求めて。
Having entered a state of being before the event of asking for advice was the closest I could find to already being in Florida before buying a souvenir.

and this:
ないなあ、でもトロントに行く時は連絡するよ。電話番号教えてくれる?
But it's not clear if he's contacting her before going to Toronto.

Also this from Tae Kim's forum:

フランスへ行った時、新しいカバンを買おうと思う。
"When I go (Once I get) to France, I think I'll by a handbag."
Which is identical to the situation in question, but I don't know if dapperdanman1400 is native Japanese. Though a native Japanese speaker, Yokohama's example above in that thread is all past tense.

http://www.guidetojapanese.org/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=41810#p41810

Sorry to add to any confusion, but a definitive answer would probably benefit many others.
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby kalavinka » Thu 01.12.2012 3:39 pm

フロリダに行くときはおみやげを買います。
When I go to Florida, I will buy souvenirs.

This sounds totally normal to me and matches the translation. But as a Japanese, I could also possibly interpret that yes, they will buy the souvenirs before they go to Florida because omiyage is not just souvenirs but gifts and whenever Japanese travel, they bring gifts and bring back gifts. So for like some Japanese living abroad, I would totally expect them to say something like 里帰りする時はおみやげを買います。(When I visit home I will buy souvenirs/gifts)

But I feel that this should be フロリダに行ったときはおみやげを買います。
Agree with previous poster, changing it to past tense is awkward because it does imply something in the past instead of future tense of when I do this then I'll do that. So if you started it by saying you went somewhere, I would expect you to talk about what you did, not what you are going to do. Afterall, even in English, "When I went to Florida, I will buy souvenirs" is awkward and confusing.
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Re: "when" in Japanese-I think the grammar guide here is off

Postby Ema » Sun 01.15.2012 6:30 pm

As a person who learned Japanese via immersion, I really stink at figuring out grammar rules. I just hear it and say, yeah it sounds right. (Just like my English)

I agree the original example sentence is too vague. It could mean buying presents in Florida to take home or buying presents to take to Florida. But for the life of me I cannot figure out what rules to follow to make it better. The post before mine the phrase sounds good. So I would call that correct.

But maybe the sentence is too simple. When I go to Florida, I will buy presents. vs. When I am in Florida I want to buy presents. Or maybe When I get to Florida I want to be able to buy presents. In Japanese you never really state things in black and white, "I will" is usually more like "I want", or "I wish". Just like it is almost impossible to tell if someone is saying yes or no in Japanese. (I hate that!)

I'd write in Japanese, but I am on my desktop and I really do not like kotoeri input. I'll try to visit back when I am on the ipad.
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