How to Use Incredibly Useful Japanese Linking Words: Suru to and Soko de
In our other Japanese linking words and phrases article, we introduced linking words that mean “but” (だって datte, でも demo, けど kedo, しかし shikashi, が ga), “that reminds me” (そういえば souieba), “and so” (それで sore de), “even so” (それでも sore demo), “after that” (それから sore kara), and “moreover” (それに sore ni, しかも shikamo).
In this linking words article, we are going to introduce すると suru to and そこで soko de, which are both for use in situations where you need a word to link two sentences to say something like “when I do [sentence A] / when [sentence A], [sentence B].” Though すると suru to and そこで soko de are similar in nuance and in usage, it is important to understand their differences in order to choose which one is most fitting when you are making sentences.
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Meaning ofすると suru to
する suru, when not attached to と to, is a verb and means “to do.” It can be seen frequently in compound verbs such as 勉強する benkyou suru (to study) and 電話する denwa suru (to call on the phone), but can also be used by itself (see our article here on using する suru).
と to is a particle, and can mean several different things, including “with.” (For more on the particle と to, click here).
When a verb is followed by と to in Japanese it can mean several different things depending on the context and on the grammar in other parts of the sentence/paragraph, but one of the things it can mean is “when [verb].”
Kawa-chan no soba ni iru to, ureshiku narimasu.
When I am beside Kawa-chan, I become happy.
する suru is a verb (“to do”), so if in the middle of a sentence you come upon a する suru followed by a と to, it may be expressing “when I do [action], [result].”
Amari ni shinpai suru to, ketsuatsu o age masu yo.
When you worry too much, you raise yoru blood pressure.
In “[verb] to” (“when [verb]”) sentences, you will sometimes see いいです ii desu (“it is good”) following the と to rather than a second verb phrase. [verb phrase]といいです to ii desu means just what it seems to mean – “when [verb] happens, it is good;” in other words, “I hope [verb phrase] happens.” Again, any verb can be used with “[verb] to,” including する suru.
Minna ga sansei suru to ii n desu ga.
I hope everyone agrees.
(If your “[verb] to ii desu” sentence is a wish for yourself, it is polite/humble to alter the ending slightly to いいんですが ii n desu ga rather than いいです ii desu).
Now then! Those are some of the other places you may come across すると suru to. However, if you come upon a する suru followed by a と to at the beginning of a sentence, it may be the linking phrase すると suru to rather than one of the above grammar patterns!
Usage of すると suru to
1. As a linking phrase, the meaning of すると suru to is more or less the same as it is in the sentences discussed above. However, when it is a linking phrase, すると suru to is more isolated. It can be used to mean “when I do [that],” even if the verb you are doing is not a する suru verb.
Kawa chan wa ie ni hairi mashita. Suru to, dareka ga kichin ni iru no ni ki ga tsuki mashita.
Kawa-chan entered her house. When she did, she became aware that someone was in her kitchen.
Terebi o tsukete, suki na bangumi ni muchuu ni nari mashita. Suru to, san jikan ga attoiu ma ni tachi mashita.
I turned on the TV and became engrossed in one of the programs I like. In doing so, three hours passed in no time.
2. Depending on how the sentence is punctuated, you may also come across linking-phrase すると suru to in the middle of a sentence; but it will still most likely be at the beginning of a phrase or thought rather than at the end of a phrase or thought.
One exception to this is the pattern “[noun] kara suru to,” which I am not sure whether to categorize as part of the “linking phrase” suru to or “when [verb]” suru to. “[Noun] kara suru to” means “from the perspective of [noun]” or “from [noun] it appears that” depending on the context.
Uwasa kara suru to, kare wa shinrai dekinai hito no you desu.
From the rumors, it appears he is a person you cannot trust.
Watashi kara suru to, kono bangumi wa amari omoshiroku nai desu.
From my perspective, this TV program is not very interesting.
1. As we discussed above, すると suru to contains する suru, which is a very common verb.
You probably have come across quite a few conjugation patterns for する suru, but be wary of conjugating the する suru in すると suru to.
Because すると suru to can be a linking phrase, sometimes it should not be conjugated. For instance, while します shimasu is a more polite form of する suru, you cannot say しますと shimasu to to mean “that means.” You could use it to mean “if I do,” however:
Benkyou suru to, ii seiseki o tore masu.
Benkyou shi masu to, ii seiseki o tore masu.
The second sentence is more polite, and both sentences mean the same thing (When you study, you can get a good grade) (that being said, the top sentence would be more recommended because having multiple -Masu Form verbs in one sentence can feel overly long or unnecessarily formal in semi-casual situations).
2. There are quite a few sentence patterns which may appear to contain すると suru to, but do not.
For example, the following sentences contain する suru and と to next to one another, but not the linking phrase すると suru to or the “if I do” すると suru to.
Kawa chan wa benkyou suru to ii mashita.
Kawa-chan said she will study.
Benkyou suru toiu koto wa hon o yondari tango o oboetari suru koto desu.
To study is to do things such as read books and memorize vocabulary.
Meaning of そこで soko de
そこで soko de is also a linking phrase.
The そこsoko in this phrase is the same そこsoko you probably already know – it means “there” (as in “that location”). The そこ soko part of そこで soko de is frequently written using hiragana, but it can be written in kanji (其処で soko de. 其 means “that,” and 処 can mean several different things, in this case “place” – together, 其 and 処 very tidily mean “that place”) (in other phrases or contexts, 処 can mean “manage” or “deal with” instead of “place”).
で de is a particle, and usually means either “via / by way of” or “at [a place].” (For more on the particle で de, click here).
When そこで soko de is not a linking phrase but just a noun plus a particle, it simply means “at there/that place.”
Soko de tabe masu.
I’ll eat there / at that place.
When そこで soko de is a linking phrase, you can still think of it meaning “at that place,” but sometimes in a more metaphorical sense. Based on context, it should almost always be clear in a given sentence whether そこで soko de is being used as a linking phrase, or to mean “at that [physical] place.”
Usage of そこで soko de
The literal translation of そこで soko de is roughly “at that place,” and as a linking phrase it is used to lead from one thought into another related thought, to bring a conversation back around from an explanation or divergence and return to its main point, or to express a metaphorical “place” in time.
When thinking about when to use そこで soko de, it may be helpful to think of it as meaning “at that moment” or “at that point [in the/my story].”
Kawa chan wa onaji T shatsu o nannichikan mo kite, kusaku nari mashita. Soko de sentaku shiyou to omoi mashita.
Kawa-chan wore the same shirt for many days, and became smelly. At that point, she decided to do laundry.
“Daijoubu” to kare wa warai nagara ii mashita. Soko de, kawa chan wa utagai hajime mashita.
“It’s fine,” he said, laughing. At that point, Kawa-chan began to doubt him.
Jitensha ga nusumare mashita. Basu ga watashi no kinjo no chikaku ni tomari masen. Soko de chotto tanomi ga aru n desu ga, mukae ni kite morae masu ka?
My bike was stolen. The bus doesn’t stop near my neighborhood. So, I have a bit of a favor to ask. Could I get you to come pick me up?
In many cases, the sentence or phrase following そこで soko de is/was caused by the sentence or phrase preceding そこで soko de.
That’s all on すると suru to and そこで soko de for now! If you have any questions, or if you come across any usages or meanings that we did not discuss in this article, please leave us a comment!
To view our other Japanese linking words and phrases article, click here.
To view a list of all our articles on Japanese grammar, click here!
Thanks for reading!