Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 2: 12/17

到頭(とうとう)

Finally, After all

Structure

とうとう + Phrase

Details

  • Register

    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About とうとう

とうとう is an adverb that is used to express that something 'finally' happens. In Japanese, there are a few ways to do this, but とうとう is one of the more common. Coming from the kanji 到頭(とうとう), this structure literally means 到 (to arrive at), 頭 (the head of/crux of) something. Due to this, 'finally', and 'after all' are the two most common translations of とうとう. Like many other adverbs in Japanese, とうとう is often used at the beginning of a phrase/sentence.
  • とうとう(まえ)大学生(だいがくせい)...
    So you're finally a college student... (After all this time, have you finally become a college student?)
  • とうとうロシア()
    I will finally go to Russia. (After all this time, I can finally go to Russia)
While とうとう is written in hiragana the majority of the time, knowing the kanji will help when trying to remember the expression's nuance. That nuance is that something has 'ended', usually after some sort of long journey/effort.
This adverb may be used to express either positive or negative outcomes, as it focuses more on the time required to achieve the result, rather than the result being good or bad.
  • とうとう夏休(なつやす)
    It's finally summer break! (Good result)
  • とうとう夏休(なつやす)()わる()()
    The day that summer break ends has finally arrived. (Bad result)
Caution
とうとう is not used in situations where you expect something to happen/start, but there has not actually been a period of time in which some sort of effort was made to achieve a result.
A good example of this is the changing of seasons. You might want to say 'finally, it's summer!', but this is not something that anyone has done anything to achieve. Rather, it came naturally. In these cases, いよいよ will be used, and has the nuance of 'finally', or 'at last' (in relation to something starting/happening).
  • いよいよ(なつ)()
    Finally, summer has come. (Natural Japanese)

Examples

  • とうとう(やす)

    Finally it is my day off.

  • とうとう(かれ)注射(ちゅうしゃ)()った

    He administered the shot after all. (He finally administered the shot)

  • それとうとう()てた

    I finally threw that away. (I threw that away after all)

  • とうとう漢字(かんじ)勉強(べんきょう)できる。

    I can finally study kanji.

  • とうとう日本(にほん)()いた

    I have finally arrived in Japan.

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とうとう – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (10 in total)

  • ericfournier2

    ericfournier2

    About 2 years ago

    Hi!

    I am confused by what seems to be a contradiction in the last example sentence and the boxed text of the grammar write up.

    The last example is:

    とうとう夏休みが終わる日が来た

    While the boxed text says:

    Caution - とうとう is not used in situations where you expect something to happen/start, but there has not actually been a period of time in which some sort of effort was being made to achieve a result. A good example of this is the changing of seasons. You might want to say ‘finally, it’s summer!’, but this is not something that anyone has done anything to achieve.

    Why is it okay to use とうとう for saying the last day of summer break is here, but not to say a season is starting?

  • nekoyama

    nekoyama

    About 2 years ago

    I think that box goes a bit too far; とうとう doesn’t require active effort by the speaker.

    It’s however still true that いよいよ is used much more commonly with a season that’s just starting; I think it’s because it sounds more positive (though it can be negative too) and it works when an event that the speaker was waiting for starts. When I say いよいよ夏が来た I’m saying it’s finally summer; I’ve been waiting for summer. I’m not saying that after long months of it not being summer, in the end summer came after all.

  • ericfournier2

    ericfournier2

    About 2 years ago

    Thank you for your explanation!

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