Itsuka: Someday, Maybe Far Away


Just like I mentioned with nanika, the “ka” in “itsuka” demonstrates uncertainty. That’s because it’s part of a word, not a particle at the end of a sentence. In a way, “ka” always projects uncertainty; we just usually interpret it as asking a question.

With this in mind, itsuka means “sometime” or “someday”. Why can it mean either one?Simple: a day far off is still “some time in the future”. The important thing here is the uncertainty involved.

Child: “Itsuka, otona ni nareru yo!”

In this example, “otona” = “adult” ; “nareru” = “become” (passive). In other words:

Child: “Someday, I’ll be all grown up!”

Here, there just isn’t a simple, cleanly defined time involved. Growing up (lit. becoming an adult) isn’t about reaching a particular date; it’s about entering a new phase in life. The verb “naru” is very much about growing, as if one is a plant. Someday, a sapling will become – that is, grow into – a tree. How we represent this in grammar is largely a matter of style.

Itsuka vs. Itsudemo

Now, let’s take a look at using this vs. using itsudemo from a few posts ago.

Version 1: 何時でもまた会える (itsudemo mata aeru)

Version 2: 何時かまた会える (itsuka mata aeru)

The first version reads, “We can meet again anytime.” That could be tomorrow, three days from now, or next week. There isn’t any large barrier to meeting again.

The second version reads, “We’ll meet again someday.” That carries a completely different connotation, possibly involving years of separation in some kind of wartime drama.

The difference between the two words is a dramatically different tone. In the first instance,  two people might depart saying “ja ne” (later); in the second, a heartfelt “sayonara” might be required. This, in fact, illustrates exactly why it’s important to understand the tone of a given situation. It’s not just about comprehension; it dictates the socially appropriate response.

Anyway, that’s all for one post. – J

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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