Volitional Confusion


I’m reading some Japanese and I saw “呼び止めようとしたら, 目が合ったわ”. I’m confused on the use of the volitional and conditional forms in the part before the comma. From what I know, the sentence should mean “If I call out to stop her, our eyes met”, but the English translation I have of it says “When I called her to stop, our eyes met”, which makes a lot more sense. Why are the volitional and conditional forms being used here instead of the regular past tense?


I’ve seen たら form used to mean both “if” and “when”. I don’t know the answer to the rest of your question, but I look forward to seeing the answer.

Here are two examples I saw from iknow.jp using たら as when:

It was exactly three when I looked at the clock.

When you get home, wash your hands first.


I think volitional + とする means ‘try to do something/make an attempt to do something’

According to my notes from Integrated Approach, if what comes after たら is present tense it can mean ‘if’ or ‘when’, but when it is past tense it means ‘when’.

As to why those are being used instead of other regular past tense, I think it all comes down to nuance.

Edit: May have found a better answer, I was looking through more of my notes and according what i have written Volitional + としたら means ‘When I was about to ~, something unexpected/beyond my control happened.’


I haven’t learned this functionality/verb form yet, however just looking up bits on Jisho, and reading what seanblue has said and your given translation… and seeing 合った there (and 合ったわ not being a verb form, at least according to Jisho)… well… 合った is the past… so “met”. I think that’s part of the solution/hint to why this sentence is in the past.


わ is a feminine ending particle similar to よ, so the 合った is what makes it past.


That makes a lot of sense in the context the sentence was in. Thanks for the help everyone.


とうしたら is a more colloquial version of ~とすれば. “If something were to…”. Using past tense with たら adds more of uncertainty and wondering to the statement.