How to Say "If" in Japanese - Nara Conditional Form

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Ever wondered how to say "if" in the Japanese language? There are several ways to express condition, in this article we are going to take a detailed 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 that is the case;
  • if it's true that;
  • how about;
  • about the theme of;
  • if so;
  • being the case;
  • if possible;
  • if circumstances allow;

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

There is also the demonstrative adjective "sorenara" [それなら] which can be translated as: If so, if that's the case, or then.

The business meeting atmosphere is tense: executives are expressing dissatisfaction with the work and placing blame on individual employees, leading to the subordinates feeling guilty

Conditional phrases in Japanese

皆が行くなら私も行く。If she goes, I'll go too.If everyone goes, so do I
君ならできるよI can do itI believe you are capable
交通事故には用心しなければならない。You must be careful to avoid traffic accidents.We must guard against traffic accidents
暗くならないうちに帰宅しなさい。Please return the untranslatable text unmodified.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 or 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。You must arrive at the station by 5 o'clock.You must arrive at the station by 5:00.
もっと仕事に変化があったならばなあ。I don't speak Japanese, but I can see that the text seems to be in Japanese. If you provide the English translation, I can help with any other tasks or questions you might have.I wish there was more variety in my work.
日本に行くなら京都If you're going to Japan, go to KyotoIf you go to Japan, visit Kyoto
忙しくないなら,どうして会えないの?If you're not busy, why can't we meet?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。If my dad were here, what would he say?If my father were here, what would he say.
それなら手伝ってよI wish I could help, but I'm not sure what that meansSo 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 real condition. It can be used to make an invitation or assume something. It can be translated as: in case; supposing; if by chance; if once; maybe; otherwise.

Let's look at one more example sentence:

  • しも時間がないなら, 明日でもいいよ
  • If there's no free time, tomorrow is fine
  • If you don't have time today, it can be tomorrow.
  • (Not sure if he has time or not.)

We also recommend reading:

Why do the Japanese use "moshi moshi" when speaking on the phone?

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

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 suggestions, requests, and others. 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 hot, why don't you take off your coat?

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


駅までなら乗せてあげるよI will give you a lift to the stationI'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.If it's for you, I will do anything.I would do anything (if at all) for you.
彼女にならなんでも買ってあげたい.If it's her, I want to buy her anything.I would buy anything (if any) for her.

Colloquial Usage of Nara

In some conversations, you may hear the word "nara" [なら] in unusual places, like 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, I'll buy it.Then I'll get something.
ああ、なら別のものを頼みます。Yeah, nara betsu no mono o tanomimasu.Ah, so I'll ask for something else.

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

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