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とき (toki) means “when”

Undou suru toki koohii o nomimasu.

In Japanese, we use 時 (とき / toki) to express the time of a state or action. It is similar to “when” in English. 

運動うんどうするときコーヒをみます。
Undou suru toki koohii o nomimasu.
When I exercise I drink coffee.
Undou suru toki koohii o nomimasu.
Form
Verb (casual) + とき…
いadjective + とき…
なadjective + な + とき…
Noun + の + とき…

Using とき (toki) with a verb

It’s important to remember not to use a formal verb when you are “connecting” two parts of a sentence.  Since とき is always connecting a time and state / action together, we must use the casual form.  If you wish to make the entire sentence formal, save the formal verb until the end.

わたしはテレビをるとき コーヒをみます。
Watashiwa terebi wo miru toki kohi wo nomimasu.
When I watch TV, I drink a coffee.
Watashiwa terebi wo miru toki kohi wo nomimasu.

 

Using とき (toki) with an いadjective

さびしいとき、はは電話でんわをします。
Sabishii toki, haha ni denwa o shimasu.
When I feel lonely, I call my mother.
Sabishii toki, haha ni denwa o shimasu.

 

Using とき (toki) with an なadjective

ひまときてください。
Hima na toki, kite kudasai.
When you are free, please come over.
Hima na toki, kite kudasai.

 

Using とき (toki) with a noun

大学生だいがくせいとき、よく勉強べんきょうしました。
Daigakusei no toki yoku benkyou shimashita.
When I was in University, I studied a lot.
Daigakusei no toki yoku benkyou shimashita.

 

Adjectives and nouns carry no tenses


With adjectives and nouns, you may have noticed that there is no tense before とき (toki) – even if it’s in the past.  For example,

山田やまださんは二十歳はたちの とき結婚けっこんしました。
Yamada-san wa hatachi no toki, kekkon shimashita.
Mr. Yamada-san got married when he was 20 years old.
Yamada-san wa hatachi no toki, kekkon shimashita.

 

This is totally normal!  The last verb (shimashita) has full authority here, and so we can assume that both parts of the sentence are in the past tense.  I’ll show you again with an adjective:

ちいさいとき奈良県ならけんおやんでいた。
Chiisai toki, Nara-ken ni oya to sundeita.
When I was small, I lived with my parents in Nara.
Chiisai toki, Nara-ken ni oya to sundeita.

Placing に (ni) after とき (toki) emphasizes the time

に (ni) can be used as a time marker, but it’s totally optional.  Let’s compare two sentences to see the difference:

映画えいがるとき、いつも友達ともだちといっしょです。
Eiga o miru toki, itsumo tomodachi to issho desu.
When I see a movie, I’m always with my friend.
Eiga o miru toki, itsumo tomodachi to issho desu.
映画えいがるときに、いつも友達ともだちといっしょです。
Eiga o miru toki ni, itsumo tomodachi to issho desu.
It is when I see a movie, that I am with my friend.
Eiga o miru toki ni, itsumo tomodachi to issho desu.

There is a little more emphasis in the second example, but the nuance is small.  

 

More Examples of とき (toki)

 
新聞しんぶんとき眼鏡めがねをかけます。
Shinbun o yomu toki, megane o kakemasu.
When I read the newspaper, I wear my glasses.
Shinbun o yomu toki, megane o kakemasu.
しずかなときほんみます。
Shizuka na toki, hon o yomimasu.
When it’s quiet, I read.
Shizuka na toki, hon o yomimasu.
宿題しゅくだいをしているとき山田やまださんがました。
Shukudai o shiteiru toki, Yamadasan ga kimashita.
When I was doing my homework, Mr. Yamada came over.
Shukudai o shiteiru toki, Yamadasan ga kimashita.
子供こどもとき日本にほんんでいました。
Kodomo no toki, Nihon ni sunde imashita.
When I was a kid, I lived in Japan.
Kodomo no toki, Nihon ni sunde imashita.
自転車じてんしゃるときにヘルメットをかぶる。
Jitensha o noru toki ni herumetto o kaburu.
When I ride my bike, I wear my helmet. 
Jitensha o noru toki ni herumetto o kaburu.
いつでも都合つごうの いいときかねかえしてください。
Itsudemo tsugou no ii toki ni okane o kaeshite kudasai.
Pay me back when it’s convenient.
Itsudemo tsugou no ii toki ni okane o kaeshite kudasai.
あめとき、よくうちでほんみます。
Ame no toki, yoku uchi de hon wo yomimasu.
When it rains, I often read books at home.
Ame no toki, yoku uchi de hon wo yomimasu.
どものとき、くもがこわかったです。
Kodomo no toki, kumo ga kowa-katta desu.
When I was a child, I was scared of spiders.
Kodomo no toki, kumo ga kowa-katta desu.
 

 

Not at all: ZENZEN Japanese Grammar Index Seems like: SOU DESU