Start Learning Japanese in the next 30 Seconds with
a Free Lifetime Account

Or sign up with Facebook

SAQ #2: "If" forms: 〜たら/〜と/〜ば/

Everything you need to know about the Japanese Language and How to Learn Japanese.

Discuss, ask questions and get answers on the Japanese Language and How to Learn Japanese.

Moderators: Moderator Team, Admin Team

Bueller_007
Expert on Something
Posts: 960
Joined: April 24th, 2006 5:29 pm

SAQ #2: "If" forms: 〜たら/〜と/〜ば/

Postby Bueller_007 » July 30th, 2006 11:59 pm

From Space ALC:
http://home.alc.co.jp/db/owa/jpn_npa?stage=2&sn=121

--

QUESTION:
What's the difference between "お金があると旅行します", "お金があったら旅行します", and "お金があれば旅行します"?


ANSWER:
..."〜ば" and "〜たら" can be used to represent what might happen if a certain non-extant state comes to be; they can represent a hypothetical situation. "〜と" cannot.

..."お金があったら旅行します" and "お金があれば旅行します" may infer "Because [I] don't have the money, [I] won't travel". "お金があると旅行します" does not imply this.

...When "〜ば" and "〜たら" are used in this hypothetical fashion, "〜ば" represents a general hypothesis (based on assumed universal cause-and-effect relationships), and "〜たら" represents a specific hypothesis (based on one's own particular situation).

For example:
"ホームレスであれば、盗人になる" = "If I were homeless, I would become a thief (because that's what the homeless do)."
"ホームレスであったら,盗人になる" = "If I were homeless, I would become a thief (in my personal case)."

..."〜ば" and "〜と" can be used to represent a habitual (i.e. traditional or repetitive) relationship between two actions, "〜たら" cannot.

For example:
"メキシコの水を飲めば、下痢をする” = "You get the runs if you drink the water in Mexico."
"メキシコの水を飲むと、下痢をする” = "You get the runs if you drink the water in Mexico."


So, the translation of each of the sentences in question are:
「お金があると旅行します。」
*"They (always) travel when they can afford it."

「お金があったら旅行します。」
*"They will travel if they can afford it."/"They would travel if they could afford it."

「お金があれば旅行します。」
*"They (always) travel when they can afford it." (so I know that:)
*"They will travel if they can afford it."/"They would travel if they could afford it."

--

Just to throw in my own two-cents here, I'll explain the difference between other forms and 〜なら. 〜なら differs from the rest of them in that the order of the actions is reversed.

For example:
海外へ行くなら、医師に診てもらう。
"If I go overseas, I will see a doctor (before I go)."
海外へ行ったら、医師に診てもらう。
"If/When I go overseas, I will see a doctor (after I get there)."

mikuji
Established Presence
Posts: 80
Joined: June 20th, 2006 8:10 pm
Location: England

Postby mikuji » August 10th, 2006 9:05 pm

This subject is covered in Japanese in the following link:

http://www014.upp.so-net.ne.jp/nbunka/991ga.htm

Please let me know if you found it helpful

mikuji

Get Up to 45% OFF 1-Year Premium & Premium PLUS
Bueller_007
Expert on Something
Posts: 960
Joined: April 24th, 2006 5:29 pm

Postby Bueller_007 » August 11th, 2006 1:12 am

mikuji wrote:This subject is covered in Japanese in the following link:

http://www014.upp.so-net.ne.jp/nbunka/991ga.htm

Please let me know if you found it helpful

mikuji

Hmmm, well, I already know the answer. That's why I posted... So I assume this post was intended for others?

Tensei
Been Around a Bit
Posts: 46
Joined: July 21st, 2006 12:10 pm

Postby Tensei » September 6th, 2006 11:58 am

I find it interesting that in-depth things like this can become second nature things you dont even have to think about when you master a language.

Alan
Expert on Something
Posts: 189
Joined: June 16th, 2006 4:09 am
Location: イギリス
Contact:

Postby Alan » September 6th, 2006 2:23 pm

~たら & -ば are fairly familiar to me. I'll have to look at -と a bit more carefully.
I've also seen なら used as a suffix for 'if'. :)

Edit: I see that なら is covered on the link that mikujiさん posted, although trying to simultaneously translate and understand subtle grammar points is a bit difficult for me. I've also just read right to the bottom of Buellerさん's post & realised that he's covered なら too.

Brody
Expert on Something
Posts: 234
Joined: May 5th, 2006 11:34 am
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Postby Brody » September 6th, 2006 2:58 pm

As always, very clear and useful explanation. Thanks, Bueller.

I find what you wrote about なら to be interesting. I was taught that it was used when referring to previously mentioned information; that it may reverse order of actions brings up some whole new aspects for it.

Would you say that these are the best ways to express the sense of "would" in Japanese? Are there other ways to do it (i.e. using でしょう or かもしれない), or are those more for levels of uncertainty? I've recently been trying to figure out how to translate "If you had looked, you WOULD have found it" into Japanese; I'm guessing it's something along the lines: もし見たら、見つけたでしょう。

Anyway, this is a very helpful explanation. Thanks.
AKA パンク野郎

Bueller_007
Expert on Something
Posts: 960
Joined: April 24th, 2006 5:29 pm

Postby Bueller_007 » September 6th, 2006 5:44 pm

Brody wrote:As always, very clear and useful explanation. Thanks, Bueller.

I find what you wrote about なら to be interesting. I was taught that it was used when referring to previously mentioned information; that it may reverse order of actions brings up some whole new aspects for it.

Would you say that these are the best ways to express the sense of "would" in Japanese? Are there other ways to do it (i.e. using でしょう or かもしれない), or are those more for levels of uncertainty? I've recently been trying to figure out how to translate "If you had looked, you WOULD have found it" into Japanese; I'm guessing it's something along the lines: もし見たら、見つけたでしょう。

Anyway, this is a very helpful explanation. Thanks.

Actually, I'm going to amend the above information.

The order in なら is not *necessarily* reversed, which is what I read in my old JLPT level 3 prep guide. But unlike the others, AならB does not have the strict "if a, then b" ordering of all the others. It's more along the lines of "assuming such and such will be true at some point in time (either now or in the future) then some other thing will happen, either now or in the future."

Your question about "would" is kind of moot, because "would" is a modal verb *required* to indicate a contrafactual. And all of the above can do that (although と can only be used contracfactually in an EXTREMELY limited sense.)

So consider these sentences, some of which may be awkward because I wrote them myself.

鳥だったら、毎日空を飛び回す。
"If I were a bird, I would fly through the sky every day." (Because that's what I would do.)

鳥であれば、毎日空を飛び回す。
"If I were a bird, I would fly through the sky every day." (Because that's what birds do./Because that's what I would do.)

鳥なら、毎日空を飛び回す。
"If [it were true that] I were a bird, I would fly through the sky every day."

In the case above, なら can be used because the order is not *necessarily* reversed, which makes what I said earlier wrong.

Personally, I would say that なら indicates the strongest contrafactual of the bunch, but that may just be because of the way that it was explained to me and the way it was translated in my new grammar book. You'd have to ask a native Japanese if なら sounds more hypothetical than the others.

If でしょう or かも were used in the above sentences, they would function as a "probably", not a "would" (which is required by the "if" statement itself). Of course, you couldn't use a でしょう in the sentences above, as it can't be used for your own actions without sounding "flaky". Or so I've been told. I've heard Japanese people do it enough that I question that advice.

Or maybe I just have flaky friends.

Brody
Expert on Something
Posts: 234
Joined: May 5th, 2006 11:34 am
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Postby Brody » September 8th, 2006 10:20 am

Hmmm....I see.

Also, what would you say about levels of politeness. I've heard that ば is more polite than たら (?) Maybe this observation stems from the fact that ば for more general, objective situations and たら is for more personal situations?

Again, thanks so much for this topic! It REALLY is helpful!
AKA パンク野郎

Bueller_007
Expert on Something
Posts: 960
Joined: April 24th, 2006 5:29 pm

Postby Bueller_007 » September 8th, 2006 6:33 pm

Brody wrote:Hmmm....I see.

Also, what would you say about levels of politeness. I've heard that ば is more polite than たら (?) Maybe this observation stems from the fact that ば for more general, objective situations and たら is for more personal situations?

Again, thanks so much for this topic! It REALLY is helpful!

I've also heard from friends that ~ba sounds more "bookish" than ~tara. But I've never read this in any of my texts.

But because ~ba has a broader "if" scope than ~tara (which primarily focuses on the temporal connection between the two actions; the reason why it can mean both "when" and "if") you can't always replace it with ~tara.

I'd say people who are confused about "if" forms would be best off sticking with the ~ba form, because it's the easiest to use, the most generally applied, and the closest equivalent to the English "if". The potential bookishness/formality factor in cases where ~ba can be replaced by ~tara is something to consider too though.

Brody
Expert on Something
Posts: 234
Joined: May 5th, 2006 11:34 am
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Postby Brody » September 9th, 2006 3:05 am

I vaguely remember something about ば that the speaker can only control the action of one part of the sentence, so it has to be a sentence like 安ければ、売れる。 (If it's cheap, it'll sell. Here, the speaker controls no part since it all depends on the price and the consumer action.) Also, 話せば、分かる。(If I talk to him, he'll understand. The speaker only controls the action of speaking, not if the other will understand.) A sentence like カメラを買えば、貸してあげる would not work (If I buy a camera, I'll lend it to you. The speaker controls the buying and the lending).

I pulled this from my Japanese: A Comprehensive Grammar book. I looked to see if there are any similar restrictions for たら but it doesn't look like it. Does this ever present a big problem for you, Bueller, when you use ば? Would it be easier to stick with たら or would you still recommend that beginners stick with ば?

Thanks!
AKA パンク野郎

Bueller_007
Expert on Something
Posts: 960
Joined: April 24th, 2006 5:29 pm

Postby Bueller_007 » September 9th, 2006 2:41 pm

Brody wrote:I vaguely remember something about ば that the speaker can only control the action of one part of the sentence, so it has to be a sentence like 安ければ、売れる。 (If it's cheap, it'll sell. Here, the speaker controls no part since it all depends on the price and the consumer action.) Also, 話せば、分かる。(If I talk to him, he'll understand. The speaker only controls the action of speaking, not if the other will understand.) A sentence like カメラを買えば、貸してあげる would not work (If I buy a camera, I'll lend it to you. The speaker controls the buying and the lending).

I've never heard this, but it very well may be true.

Looking at my intro grammar book, I don't see this restriction mentioned as such, but I do see something that may be similar.

They say that the S2 in "S1 ~ba S2" cannot be a command/request/etc. if S1 is an action. (Although it's okay if S1 represents a state.)

The examples they give are:
山本さんが来れば知らせてください。(NO!)
山本さんが来たら知らせてください。(OK!)

シカゴへ行けばバスで行ったらどうですか。(NO!)
シカゴへ行くならバスで行ったらどうですか。(OK!)

安ければ買いなさい。 (OK!)

I hadn't thought of this...


They also mention a difference in nuance in the following sentences:

1. ベンが来たら、私は帰ります。
2. ベンが来れば、私は帰ります。
3. ベンが来るなら、私は帰ります。

Sentence 1 has two possible meanings: "When Ben comes, I will go home." and "If Ben comes, I will go home." The only thing that we can deduce from the sentence is that "FIRST BEN COMES HERE, THEN I GO HOME."

Sentence 2 means "If Ben comes, then I will go home." And the book says that the focus is more on the condition than the action. Something like: "The condition under which I go home is Ben coming here".

Sentence 3 means "If it is true that Ben is coming, I will go home." The "I will go home" part may occur before or after "Ben comes here".


Return to “Learn All About Japanese”