Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 2: 1/17

When, At the time of

Verb + とき
[い]Adjective + とき
[な]Adjective + + とき
Noun + + とき
Register Standard
使用域 一般
とき, or 時(とき) in kanji, is a noun that is regularly used to signify ‘when’ something was done. However, unlike some other time expressions, とき is mainly used to express things that happen at regular intervals (habits, hobbies, etc.), or at broad times/individual events (when it rains, when there is a sale at the shop, etc.)
Using とき is quite easy! You just need to attach it to the end of any independent word (verbs, nouns, or adjectives). As with most cases where you will attach a noun to another word in Japanese, we will also be required to use な before な-Adjectives, and before nouns.
  • 狭(せま)駐車場(ちゅうしゃじょう)車(くるま)ドア開(あけ)けときにドア壁(かべ)ぶつけ
    When I opened my car door in a small parking lot, I slammed it on the wall. (Individual event)
  • 暑(あつ)時(とき)エアコン点(つ)けましょう
    When it is hot, let's turn on the air conditioner. (Broad time)
  • 彼(かれ)暇(ひま)ときに本(ほん)読(よ)みます
    He reads books when he is bored. (Hobby)
  • 雨(あめ)時(とき)家(いえ)ゴロゴロしています
    When it rains, I laze around in my house. (Habit)
As discussed previously, とき is primarily used to discuss broad times. What this means is that it will not be used to discuss very specific events. For example ‘the time you tripped over a log and hurt your foot’. Although this type of sentence will not be grammatically incorrect, it will sound quite unnatural.
  • 昨日(きのう)、学校(がっこう)から家(いえ)帰(かえ)ってた時(とき)に木(き)根(ね)っこにつまづい、足(あし)痛(いた)め
    Yesterday, when I was going home from school, I tripped on a tree root and hurt my foot. (Too specific, another grammar point will work better)
In cases like the above example, using たら or will be much more natural. If とき is used, the nuance will be that it is describing the whole situation, rather than the more specific event that happened.
  • 俺(おれ)高校生(こうこうせい)時(とき)に俺(おれ)が好(す)き女(おんな)の子(こ)告白(こくはく)し、「え、無理(むり)...」って言(い)わ
    When I was in highschool I asked out a girl I liked, and she said ‘umm, no way…’ (時(とき) is describing the broad event of ‘being a highschool student’, while is describing a single event that happened during that time.
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I listen to music when I take a walk.
When I go to karaoke, I can have fun.
When you are having class, you have to be quiet.
Genki II 1st Edition
Page 78
みんなの日本語 I
Page 146 [CH 23]
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 104
みんなの日本語 II
Page 24 [CH 28]
Marugoto Elementary 2 (A2) Rikai
Page 58
Marugoto Elementary 1 (A2) Rikai
Page 34
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 13 & 490
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 114