718 - に至って(にいたって)

JLPT N1: に至って(にいたって // only after

It seems like every N2 and N1 lesson uses some kind of word or phrase that has already been used in some other N2 or N1 lesson, yeah?

We just saw an example of this with these two lessons:
- [NDL #626] - JLPT N2: 次第で (しだいで)
- [NDL #717] - JLPT N2: 次第だ(しだいだ)

And we're about to see it again with grammar points using the verb 至る (いたる).

We can translate this verb a few ways, but I find myself frequently thinking of it as meaning "to reach (a stage or level)" ...though that can get twisted into some pretty varied meanings once we travel to Grammar Land.

For example, it can mean "in the worst case" or "worst of all" when it appears as に至っては (にいたっては), as we saw in [NDL #627] - JLPT N1: に至っては(にいたっては)


うちの子たちは食べ物の好き嫌いが激しい。末っ子に至っては、野菜も果物も魚も一切食べない。
うち の こ たち は たべもの の すききらい が はげしい。 すえっこ にいたっては、 やさい も くだもの も さかな も いっさい たべない。
Our kids are really picky eaters. Our youngest one is the worst. He [She] completely refuses to eat vegetables, fruit, and fish.
Literally: “our family + の + kids + は + food + の + likes and dislikes / pickiness (about foods) + が + extreme. + youngest child + に至っては、+ vegetables + も + fruit + も + fish + も + (not) at all + won’t eat / doesn’t eat.”

When appearing as に至るまで (にいたるまで), it can mean "even" or "all the way up [down] to," as we saw in [NDL #634] - JLPT N1: に至るまで(にいたるまで)


彼女はディケンズのことなら初恋の人の名前に至るまで、なんでも知っている。
かのじょ は ディケンズ の こと なら はつこい の ひと の なまえ にいたるまで、 なんでも しっている。
She knows everything about Dickens, even the name of his first love.
Literally: “she + は + Dickens + の + thing + if (it is the case) + first love + の + person + の + name + に至るまで, + everything / anything + is knowing.”

And now, in this lesson, we're going to see the meaning of "only after" with the phrase に至って(にいたって)(with no は!):


お父さんは、お母さんの会社が倒産するという事態に至ってやっと重い腰を上げて働き始めた。
おとうさん は、 おかあさん の かいしゃ が とうさん する という じたい にいたって、 やっと おもい こし を あげて はたらき はじめた。
Only after my mother’s company went bankrupt did my father finally get up and start working himself.
Literally: “father + は, + mother + の + company + が + going bankrupt + do + という + state / condition + に至って, + finally + heavy + (lumbar region of the) body / lower back + を + lift up (and) + started to work.”

For me personally, the meaning of "to reach (a stage or level)" for the verb 至る seems to work pretty well in all of the above examples. For に至って, specifically, we are talking about how some situation has reached a serious or dire stage.

There is another similarity between all of the above grammar points, too: All of them are preceded by a NOUN.

Be careful, though, as に至って is different than these other two grammar points in that it can also be preceded by a present tense plain form verb:


叔母は肺にガンが見つかるに至ってようやくタバコをやめた。
おば は はい に ガン が みつかる にいたって、 ようやく タバコ を やめた。
Only after finding out that she had lung cancer did my aunt finally quit smoking.
Literally: “aunt + は + lungs + に + cancer + が + be found + に至って, + finally + tobacco / cigarettes + を + quit.”


👷 Construction 👷

Since this is turning into a bit of a review lesson, I'll include grammar patterns for everything we've seen so far.


NOUNに至っては
NOUN is the worst

NOUNに至るまで
even NOUN; all the way up [down] to NOUN

V るNOUNに至って
only after VERB / NOUN

👔 All three of these are used in stiff, formal language.

🚫 This isn't the type of Japanese you hear in casual settings.


There is a chance that you already picked up on this, but に至って is often used with words meaning something like "at last" or "finally," such as やっとようやく、and いよいよ.

It also pairs up with 初めて (はじめて // for the first time) quite a bit:


生徒たちは、その試験の合格率がたったの10%だと知るに至って初めて危機感を持ち始めたようだ。
せいと たち は、 その しけん の ごうかく りつ が たった の じゅっパーセント だ と しる にいたって、 はじめて ききかん を もちはじめた ようだ。
Only after the students found out that the test had a mere 10% pass rate did they first appear to start realizing how much trouble they were in [realizing the gravity of their situation].
Literally: “students + は, + that + test + の + pass rate + が + only / a mere + の + 10% + だ + と + know + に至って, + for the first time + sense of danger + を + began to have + apparently / it seems that.”
Note: The nuance is that the students realized that if they didn't start seriously studying, they might fail.


Last example, and then you'll be free from the clutches of に至って. I also wanted to try writing a translation that didn't use the phrase "only after":


いよいよ警察に通報という段階に至って、部下の一人が自分がやったと白状した。
いよいよ けいさつ に つうほう という だんかい にいたって、 ぶか の ひとり が じぶん が やった と はくじょう した。
It reached the stage where we were going to report it to the police, and that’s when one of our workers finally admitted to having done it.
Literally: “finally + police + に + report + という + step + に至って, + subordinate + の + one person + が + oneself + が + did + と + confession + did.”


Finished!

Those were some pretty dense example sentences, yeah? But understanding big blocks of text is key to passing JLPT tests.

We have just one more N1 lesson using the verb 至る, and then you'll be done. Something to look forward to.

Hang in there, fellow student!