Creating an "if" statement in Japanese is not easy. This lesson will showcase to you three of the most common grammar points in Japanese to make conditional phrases. By no means, though, does this mean you will be able to master them completely by reading this lesson. The differences between these patterns are highly contextual, and it will still take a lot of practice to get the hang of them. So, by all means, please take your time as you read through this lesson.
The conjunctive と can be described with the following.
So, "when X happens, Y happens". Y is predictable or an unavoidable fact. This is not an "if" statement. Even when it is translated with the word "if", Y is still something that is certain. So, this means that this pattern is not correct for requests, judgments, etc. These sorts of things don't have a 100% degree of certainty, and they can be easily refuted.
Also, と can show warning like in "if you don't leave now, you will be late". In (2), the verb with と is in the non-past, but the main verb is in the past tense because と. In this situation, と is often translated as "when" or "as".
When it becomes April, cherry blossoms will blossom.
If he's a teacher, surely he has to be older, right?
When I went to the hospital, Mr. Fujiwara was there.
If you don't depart now, you'll be late.
When you open the window, you can see cows.
When the sun rises, it becomes bright.
When the sun sets, it becomes dark.
It would be good to gather soup stock with kombu or something.
When we add 2 to 3, we get 5.
When it begins to snow, the animals begin hibernation.
Your hair grows when you eat wakame and hijiki.
Word Note: ワカメ and ヒジキ are different kinds of edible seaweed.
Fish, fish, fish, when you eat fish, your brain gets smart, your brain gets smart, your brain gets smart.
Practice (1): Translate the following. You may use a dictionary.
1. If you warm ice, it melts.
なら may show advice. It can show things that would be realistic if something were to ever be the case. なら is called the contextual conditional because it is equivalent to "if you are talking about..., then...". Overall, なら(ば) is used to give suggestions, speculation, or requests.
If you are going to China, please see the Great Wall.
If you want to buy a camera, it's best to go to Akihabara.
If you are going to the post office, please buy five 60 yen stamps.
No, they are sold out, but we have unreserved seats.
If you must, you have no choice.
That makes it easy.
You may leave provided/providing that you finished your work.
Providing that you know, please tell me.
Grammar Note: なら expresses the speaker's supposition or defines the basis of the statement. There is no required temporal ordering of the two situations presented. So, it can't be used to show a consequence in the past or condition for the future.
Nuance Note: のなら is stronger and enforces a confirmation of the content of the condition.
Usage Note: なら can also be used as a conjunction at the front of a sentence in broken down speech for それなら.
Practice (2): Translate the following.
1. Shows an unrealized event being hypothesized, not completely certain. It's often preceded by もし. In a temporal condition, the next action is to happen after the action with たら. So, something happens once certain conditions are met.
I'll call you once the meeting ends, OK?
If I were rich, I'd so buy a castle!
If it doesn't rain, let's go.
After it finished raining, we decided to go somewhere.
It would be nice if I could go to Japan.
If there wasn't gravity on earth, you would probably be floating in the air.
Once an earthquake subsides, get accurate information.
2. When you do X, Y happens. The latter part is typically unexpected.
When I opened the door, Mr. Kato was standing there.
When I read the book for my younger brother, he was very happy.
When I rested, I got better.
When I went to the bank, I saw a friend.
3. Shows an obvious conditional. This is a generic condition. This means that something is almost always followed by some situation. This "almost always" diction suggests that it is not as certain as と.
If you are an employee of this company, you can get a discount at that college.
If you kill a person, you'll get the death penalty.
If we catch a cold, we sneeze.
4. （の）だったら emphasizes a topic because of the condition of someone else.
If you don't want to do it, stop!
If you're talking about dad, he's in the room.
たら may be たらば in formal situations. In hypothetical situations, もし(も) is almost always added. Unlike と or なら, たら may be in a hypothetical yet unrealistic gesture. It's also the most common conditional because of its wide usage. However, it's often avoided in formal writing.
We saw that in the first usage of たら, もし was always present. もし is related to hypothetical events. If you looked in a Japanese dictionary, you would find a definition similar to the following.
It shows an event of hypothesizing and stating a certain condition.
When a clause with たら is used to show a hypothetical condition--where it may or may not happen--it is usually used with もし. もし is also used with counter-factual hypothetical statements where the event is extremely unrealistic. Even here, もし simply adds more uncertainty.
If I could eat sushi every day, I would be very happy.
If it rains tomorrow, I will stay at home.
If I were you, I'd wait a while.
Suppose you were in my place, what would you do?
ば creates the provisional conditional form with the 已然形. Never confuse this with the potential forms of verbs. There is a difference between 買えば and 買えれば. The first is ば with the basic form of the verb, and the second is ば with the potential form of the verb. The chart below shows how to conjugate with the 已然形. You are now responsible to know what this base is.
ば shows that the previous stated condition's establishment is the condition for the latter stated condition to occur. The subjects of both clauses should not show volition. So, although the subject may be the same subject may be in both clauses, the resultant outcome should be natural in such instance.
This particle is perfect for showing desired result, so it would sound unnatural if the latter clause had some negative/undesired result specifically stated. This, then, does not mean "negative words" used in making suggestions/commands are then ungrammatical because you are soliciting a desired outcome.
ば may also show the cue for a latter stated recognition or judgment.
If you don't have any other opinions, let's end here.
Well, if it's impossibility, turn it in by Monday.
Like たら, it can show generic, temporal, and hypothetical conditions, but it's more forceful and places emphasis on the future aspect. The main clause shouldn't suggest with an action in the following manner.
44. 京都へ来たら、ぜひ連絡してください。〇 京都へ来れば、ぜひ連絡してください。X
Once you come to Kyoto, please contact me.
The suggestion is to do something once the condition of reaching Kyoto is met. Both conditionals can be followed by expressions reflecting the will of the speaker, but phrases with ば tend to be stronger and directed more specifically on something.
It will open once you push it.
When it becomes winter, snow will fall.
Grammar Note: たら has a sequence requirement, but this "once" nuance of ば focuses on the conditional as the instigator for the latter to occur. So, it is stronger.
How about going to Osaka together if it's convenient with you?
Confidence is half the battle.
If you look up, the stars are projected in the air, and the dark is spreading.
If you'll study to that extent, passing is only natural.
If you drink sake, you also smoke.
If it is the case that you wish to become a singer, it is best that you also learn how to play an instrument.
Pronunciation Note: Do not pronounce 楽器 as がき because 餓鬼 ＝ brat. So, be careful.
Practice (3): Translate the following.
Proverb Note: 一犬虚に吠ゆれば万犬実を云う。This proverb means that "if a single dog barks a lie, ten thousand dogs will then speak it as the truth". This is meant to show that once a rumor spreads, it will eventually be taken as the truth. 吠ゆれば is the Classical Japanese form 吠えれば, and in proverbs such as this, old forms of grammar are common.
Slang Note: ～ば may be turned into ～や in slang. Generally, this is seen when れ precedes ば, and then the combination becomes りゃ. For instance, どうすりゃいいの? However, you can still say things like どう言いやいいんだよ. Of course, this would be very casual and slang and is rather 乱暴.
2. When I entered the room, I opened the curtains.
3. I went to Kyoto with my boyfriend.
4. When I opened the door, there was a dog. When I opened the window, there was a bird. And, when I opened the trash can, there was a rat.
1. If you are going to Korea, it is best to go by plane.
2. If everyone's going, I'll go too.
3. If there's not a train, you just got to walk.
4. If you are going to Osaka, the bullet train is good.
5. If it's that you're talking about, I've heard it numerous times.
1. It's best not to buy it if it's expensive.
2. How about coming to my house?
3. It would probably be fun if you could take to dogs.
4. You'll be able to receive an A if you study.
5. If it’s cheap, I think that it’s best to buy it.