How to Say “If” in Japanese – Nara Conditional Form

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Ever wondered how to say “if” in Japanese? There are several ways to express condition, in this article we will take a closer look at one of them, the nara form.

Nara is a contextual condition, used after a verb, adjective or noun. It is used to describe something in a given context, it does not always present a real condition. The full form is naraba [ならば], it is more formal, but most of the time just [なら] is used.

What does nara mean in Japanese?

Nara besides being the name of a famous Japanese city where you can find deer. It is also a conditional that can be translated as:

  • if;
  • in case;
  • if any;
  • if it is true that;
  • as to;
  • on the topic of;
  • if then;
  • this being the caseO;
  • if possible;
  • if circumstances permit;

The form nara [なら] also serves to emphasize what comes before. The negative form naranai [ならない] can be translated as: one should not; should not; can not;

There is also the demonstrative adjective sorenara [それなら] which can be translated to: If so, if so, or else.

Business meeting atmosphere : executives show dissatisfaction with work, blaming individual employees : subordinates feel guilty

Conditional phrases in Japanese

皆が行くなら私も行く。Mine ga ikunara watashi mo iku.If everyone goes, I will too
ならできるよKiminara dekiru yoI believe you are capable
交通事故には用心しなければならないKōtsū jiko ni wa yōjin shinakereba naranai.We must guard against traffic accidents
暗くならないうちに帰宅しなさい。Kuraku naranai uchi ni kitaku shi nasai.Please go home before dark.
もし明日晴れなら、私たちは野球をします。Moshi ashita harenara, watashitachiha yakyū o shimasu.If it's sunny tomorrow, let's play baseball.
君は5時までに駅に着かねばならない。Kimi wa 5-ji made ni eki ni tsukaneba naranai.You must arrive at the station by 5:00 am.
もっと仕事に変化があったならばなあ。Motto shigoto ni henka ga attanaraba nā.I wish there was more variety in my work.
日本に行くなら京都Nihon ni ikunara KyōtoIf you go to Japan, visit Kyoto
忙しくないなら,どうして会えないの?Isogashikunainara, dōshite aenai no?If you're not busy, why don't you go out with me?
もし父がここにいたならばなんと言うだろう。Moshi chichi ga koko ni itanaraba nanto iudarou.If my father were here, what would he say.
それなら手伝ってよSorenara tetsudatte yoSo help me!

There are other ways to use なら and some facts that have not been explained, and that need to be analyzed further.

もし - How does moshi fit in?

You probably found the moshi [もし] in a few sentences above. Moshi can be translated as "if". How does it fit into sentences with naraba [ならば] or another conditional?

It is a supplement that adds a feeling of uncertainty about the actual condition. It can be used to make an invitation, or to assume something. It can be translated as: in case; guessing; if by chance; if once; perhaps; otherwise.

Let's look at another example sentence: 

  • しも時間がないなら, 明日でもいいよ
  • Shimo jikan ga nainara, ashita demo ī yo
  • If you don't have time today, it can be tomorrow;
  • (It is not sure whether he has time or not.)

We also recommend reading:

Why do Japanese people use moshi moshi when talking on the phone?

Using Nara as a Particle

The form nara [なら] can be used with a particle.

If you use the particle の before なら, you are emphasizing a meaning, and it can be used to give advice, make a suggestion, request and so on. You can use the particle の after adjectives and verbs.

  • そんなに暑いのなら上着を脱げばいいのに。
  • Son'nani atsui nonara uwagi o nugeba īnoni;
  • If you're feeling hot, why don't you take your coat off?

You can use なら after particles に・から・ため・から・まで.


までなら乗せてあげるよEki madenara nosete ageru yoI'll give you a ride if you're going to the station.
あなたのためなら何でもします.Anata no tamani nani demo shimasu.I would do anything (if it is) for you.
彼女にならなんでも買ってあげたい.Kanojo ninara nan demo katte agetai.I would like to buy anything (if any) for her.

Colloquial Usage of Nara

In some conversations, you may hear nara [なら] in unusual places, such as at the beginning of a sentence. It can be translated as: If so; then.

なら,私が買ってくるよ.Nara, watashi ga katte kuru yo.Then I will get something.
ああ、なら別のものを頼みます。Ā, nara betsu no mono o tanomimasu.Aa, so I'm going to order something else.

I hope this short article has helped you to clear your doubts about the use of the naraba [ならば] form. Some sources that helped me to write this article and get example sentences were: maggiesensei, guidetojapanese.

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4 thoughts on “Como Dizer “se” em japonês – Forma Condicional Nara”

  1. Na verdade não,
    um dos significados da expressão ” verbo forma te + kuru” é justamente “Ir fazer algo e voltar”, então ali o correto é isso mesmo, Irei comprar/ irei conseguir ( Mas voltarei estando subtendido). Lembrando sempre que as traduções nem sempre são feitas de formas literais, deve-se considerar o contexto e encontrar a melhor tradução em que a expressão ou frase se enquadra na ideia como um todo.
    Um grande exemplo é a expressão “daisuki” de forma literal é tipo, como gostar muito, mas em alguns textos,animes ou mangás e inclusive dito de forma casual como “amar”.

  2. Not really,
    one of the meanings of the expression ” verb form te + kuru” é precisely “Going to do something and coming back”, so there the correct é That's right, I'll buy / I'll get (But I'll come back being subtended). Always remembering that translations are not always made in literal ways, one must consider the context and find the best translation in which the expression ;o or phrase fits the idea as a whole.
    great example é the expression “daisuki” literally é like, like I like it a lot, but in some texts, Anime or manga and even casually said as “amar”.