たら tara Sentence for Discovery -
Intermediate Lessons: 33

You have already learned たら tara sentence in lesson 27 and 28. In those two lessons, with the following sentence pattern...

Sentence 1 たら、 Sentence 2

...basically you learned about:

1. 

Conditional Sentence

明日雨が降ったら、うちでテレビを見ます。
ashita ame ga futtara, uchi de terebi wo mimasu

Meaning: If it rains tomorrow, I will watch TV at home.

2. 

When (where the moment is definitely happening in the future)

二十歳になったら、車の免許を取りたいです。
hatachi ni nattara, kuruma no menkyo wo toritai desu

Meaning: When I become 20 years old, I want to get a driving license.

In this lesson, you will be learning yet another function of たら tara sentence - Discovery. The sentence pattern is similar, except that Sentence 2 is always in past tense.

Sentence 1 たら、 Sentence 2 (Past tense) - Express fact in the past

The conjugation for Sentence 1 is the same as before, only with the difference that Sentence 2 is in the past tense. You might recall that Sentence 2 is always in present tense in lesson 27 and 28.

This expression indicates that Sentence 2 is realized or noticed when Sentence 1 is realized. Sentence 1 is always an action and Sentence 2 must be a state. Sentence 2 cannot be an action.

Basically you'll use the above sentence pattern in two cases.

First Case to use たら tara Sentence for Discovery

Through the action in Sentence 1, Sentence 2 (what had already occurred or happened) was discovered (surprisingly).

Sentence 2 often ends with "~て-form いた" or "~て-form いました".

Let's look at one example...

たら tara sentence for Discovery
  • カーテンを開けたら、雨が降っていました。
    ka-ten wo aketara, ame ga futte imashita

    Meaning: When I opened the curtain, I discovered that it was raining.
たら tara sentence - opened curtain

In the above example, both events have already happened.
In the past, I opened the curtain and discovered that it was raining

  • ドアを開けたら、大きい犬がいました。
    doa wo aketara, ookii inu ga imashita

    Meaning: When I opened the door, I discovered that there was a big dog.
たら tara sentence - opened door

The dog has already been in front of the door before I opened it. But only when I opened the door, then I discovered that the big dog was there.

  • デパートへ行ったら、休みでした。
    depa-to e ittara, yasumi deshita

    Meaning: When I went to the department store, I discovered that it was closed.
たら tara sentence - went to department store

The department store was closed today. But I didn't know about that. Only when I went there, then I found out that it was closed.

  • 学校に着いたら、授業が始まっていました。
    gakkou ni tsuitara, jugyou ga hajimatte imashita

    Meaning: When I arrived at school, lesson had already started.
たら tara sentence - arrived at school

The lesson had started before I arrived at school. I only discovered that when I reached there.

  • 郵便受けを開けたら、友達からの手紙が来ていました。
    yuubinuke wo aketara, tomodachi kara no tegami ga kite imashiata

    Meaning: When I opened my letter box, I discovered that the letter from my friend had already arrived.
たら tara sentence - opened letter box

The letter from my friend arrived before I opened the letter box.

Second Case to use たら tara Sentence for Discovery

Sentence 2 occurred as a result of some action in Sentence 1 (unexpectedly).

  • アイスクリームを食べたら、お腹が痛くなりました。
    aisukuri-mu wo tabetara, onaka ga itakunarimashita

    Meaning: I ate ice-cream, then I had a stomach-ache. (As a result of eating ice-cream, I had a stomach-ache)

Both events had already happened in the past. That means, in the past, I ate ice-cream, then I had a stomach-ache. If I didn't eat ice-cream, I wouldn't have a stomach-ache.

Similarly, for the rest of examples, something happened unexpectedly as a result of the actions in Sentence 1.

  • コーヒーを飲んだら、寝られませんでした。
    ko-hi- wo nondara, neraremasendeshita

    Meaning: I drank coffee, and I couldn't sleep. (As a result of drinking coffee, I couldn't sleep) 
  • 宝くじを買ったら、800ドル当たりました。
    takarakuji wo kattara, happyaku doru atarimashita

    Meaning: I bought lottery, and I won $800. (As a result of buying lottery, I won $800)
  • ジムに行ったら、田中さんに会いました。
    jimu ni ittara, tanaka san ni aimashita

    Meaning: I went to the Gym, and I met Ms Tanaka there. (As a result of going to the Gym, I met Ms Tanaka) 

Summary

In the first case of たら tara Sentence for Discovery, it normally delivers a surprise feeling. You discovered something and become surprised. In the second case, what happened next (as a result of the first action) was unexpected.

In either case, the most difficult part is the regulation you need to take note of when using this sentence pattern.

Regulation - when using たら tara Sentence for Discovery

Intentional acts by the speaker cannot be used in Sentence 2

This regulation is quite self-explanatory because if you have speaker's intentional action in Sentence 2, it's no longer a discovery, nor it's a surprised or unexpected event.

Let's see an example...

  • 去年日本へ行きました。ホテルに泊まりました。
    kyonen nihon e ikimashita. hoteru ni tomarimashita

    Meaning: I went to Japan last year. I stayed in a hotel.

Both events in the above example are facts in the past. I went to Japan last year and I stayed in a hotel.

However, you cannot connect the two sentences with たら tara sentence. Because the action of staying in hotel was an intentional act decided by you. You chose to stay in a hotel. This is not a surprised or unexpected event.

You cannot say...

  • 去年日本へ行ったら、ホテルに泊まりました。 X
    kyonen nihon e ittara, hoteru ni tomarimashita X

But you can say...

  • 去年日本へ行っ、ホテルに泊まりました。
    kyonen nihon e itte, hoteru ni tomarimashita

    Meaning: I went to Japan last year and stayed in a hotel.

The above example was just two actions in order of occurrence using て-form. First I went to Japan, then I stayed in a hotel.

Therefore, for たら tara Sentence for Discovery, no intentional acts by the speaker in Sentence 2.

Related Pages

Lesson 27: たら (tara) Sentence.

Lesson 28: たら (tara) Sentence Special Case.

 

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