Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 5: 18/21


For the first time, Not until, Only after, Only when, Only because


Verb[て]+ はじめて


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About て初めて

(はじ)めて is an expression in Japanese that highlights one verb as being the catalyst for some particular result/state. Verb て(はじ)めて literally means 'with (A) done, for the first time (B)'. Often, this translates similarly to 'only after I (A) did I (B)', or 'not until (A) did I (B)'.
  • 先生(せんせい)になっ(はじ)めて先生(せんせい)大変(たいへん)()かった。
    It was only upon becoming a teacher, that I understood how hard it is to be one.
  • ()なバンドコンサート()(はじ)めて歌手(かしゅ)(ひと)(おとこ)(ひと)()づいた。
    It wasn't until I went to a concert of my favorite band that I realized the singer was a man.
In this structure, it should be noted that the (A) verb is not necessarily being done for the first time ever, just that this time resulted in the speaker's first experience of (B).
  • (えき)ある時間(じかん)(ひょう)()(はじ)めて土日(どにち)電車(でんしゃ)()ないこと()った。
    I didn't know that trains don't come during the weekends, until I saw the train schedule.
Originally, (はじ)めて 'commencing with' and (はじ)めて 'starting with' were both used with this expression. However, this is considered incorrect in modern Japanese, as only (はじ)めて strictly carries the meaning of 'for the first time'.
  • カレンダー()(はじ)めて今日(きょう)休日(きゅうじつ)ってこと()った。
    Commencing with checking the calendar, I noticed that today is a holiday.
  • カレンダー()(はじ)めて今日(きょう)休日(きゅうじつ)ってこと()った。
    Only after checking the calendar did I notice that it is a holiday today.


  • 日本(にほん)()てはじめて日本(にほん)文化(ぶんか)興味(きょうみ)()った。

    I didn't have any interest in Japanese culture until I came to Japan.

    興味を持つ means 'to have interest in'.

  • 京都(きょうと)(おとず)てはじめて京都(きょうと)歴史(れきし)(ふる)(まち)だと()かった。

    I didn't understand why Kyoto was known as a historical and ancient town until I visited there.

  • 日本語(にほんご)勉強(べんきょう)てはじめて(ほか)(くに)言語(げんご)(はな)面白(おもしろ)さを()った。

    I didn't know how fun it was to speak in other languages until I started studying Japanese.

  • (はなし)()いてみてはじめて(きみ)苦労(くろう)()った。

    Only after I heard your story, did I understand what you had been through.

  • テレビ()てはじめて地震(じしん)があったことを()った。

    It wasn't until I saw what was on TV, that I became aware of the fact that an earthquake had occured.

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