Conditional SE - Nara - なら (ば) 

In Japanese, there are several ways to express condition, in this article we will examine in detail one of them, the なら (ば) form.

Nara is a contextual condition, used after the verb, adjective or noun. It is used to describe something in a certain context, it does not always present a real condition. The complete form is ならば (naraba), it is more formal, but most of the time only なら is used.

It can be translated as: if ・ in case ・ if in case ・ if it is true that ・ as for ・ on the theme of ・ if then ・ that being the case ・ if possible ・ if circumstances permit.

The なら shape also serves to emphasize what comes before. The negative form ならない can be translated as: One must not ・ must not ・ cannot. There is also the demonstrative adjective それなら that can be translated to: If so ・ if this is the case ・ then.


See some examples below:

Japanese Romaji Portuguese
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 yo I 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, we'll 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 Kyōto If 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 yo So 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 have found もし (moshi) in a few sentences above. Moshi can be translated as "if" but how does it fit into the sentences along with ならば or another conditional?

It is a supplement that adds a feeling of uncertainty about whether the condition is real. It can be used to make an invitation, or to assume something. It can be translated as: in case ・ assuming ・ if by chance ・ if once ・ maybe ・ 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 may be tomorrow;
  • (It is not sure whether he has time or not.)

らら together with particles

The shape なら can be used together 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, etc. 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. Examples:

までなら乗せてあげるよ Eki madenara nosete ageru yo I'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 Use

In some conversations, you can hear 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 answer your questions about using the ならば form. Some sources that helped me write this article and get example sentences were: maggiesensei, guidetojapanese.