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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is...What’s the difference between the conditionals ば (-ba) and たら (-tara)?
The endings ば (-ba) and たら (-tara) are both used for conditionals in Japanese. So how do you know which one to use?
The nuance is slightly different. If the sentence is--
[Clause A]ば (-ba) [Clause B] - then ば (-ba) would be “as long as” making the condition the focus of the sentence.
If the sentence is --
[Clause A]たら(-tara)[Clause B] then Clause B can only happen if Clause A is realized.
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use ば (-ba) and たら (-tara) correctly.
First, let’s do an example using both--
今すぐ行けば、間に合うだろう。(Ima sugu ikeba, ma ni au darō.)
今すぐ行ったら、間に合うだろう。(Ima sugu ittara, ma ni au darō.)
Both of these sentences mean “If you go right now, you would make it on time.” As Clause B can only happen if Clause A occurs, たら (-tara) is alright. However, if the focus of your sentence is the condition, “if you go right now,” then it would be more natural to use ば (-ba).
There’s a difference in nuance, but in many cases, you can use both ば (-ba) and たら (-tara) to mean “if.” But, there is a case where you can use only たら (-tara).
If Clause B is an order, recommendation, request, prohibition, wish or volition, only たら (-tara) can be used. For example--
日本に行ったら、京都を訪ねてください。(Nihon ni ittara, Kyōto o tazunete kudasai.)
“When you go to Japan, please visit Kyoto.” Here, the speaker is making a request. Therefore, only たら (-tara) can be used.
Let's take a look at another example expressing one’s volition in Clause B--
日本に行ったら、マンガを買います。(Nihon ni ittara, manga o kaimasu.)
“When I go to Japan, I’ll buy manga.” Here, Clause B expresses one’s volition, therefore only たら(-tara) can be used.
Here’s a tricky point. There is a case where you can also use ば (-ba) even if the Clause B expresses one’s volition or request.
Let’s say you’re shopping and you want to buy something sweet. You see some free samples and want to try one. You might say to your friend--
おいしければ、買います。(Oishikereba, kaimasu.) or
おいしかったら、買います。(Oishikattara, kaimasu.)
“If it’s delicious, I’ll buy it.”
In this case, Clause B expresses the speaker’s volition, and Clause A doesn’t have an action verb, but it expresses the “state” using an adjective. In that case, you can use both ば (-ba) and たら (-tara).
How was this lesson? If it’s still confusing, don’t worry, because they have almost the same meaning. If you’re feeling stuck, try to focus on ば (-ba) because its usage has more restrictions.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね!mata ne! See you!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 19th, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 15th, 2020 at 04:56 AM
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Thank you for the question!

I'm not sure what you mean by "suggestion" but your example sentence is conditional.

Maybe you're confusing it with たらどうですか?

Thank you for studying with us!



Team JapanesePod101.com

September 30th, 2020 at 10:10 PM
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Sensei can you please tell if I’m wrong about what I understand about ~ば? ば also expresses suggestion. ex このボタンを押せば、お金が出ます。

JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 14th, 2019 at 01:49 PM
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for the comment!

Yes, In the transcript, it says "If you’re feeling stuck, try to focus on ば (-ba) because its usage has more restrictions. "

So in the lesson, she was focusing on 'ba' because it has more restriction. And at the end of the lesson, she said that if you are not sure if you should 'ba' or 'tara', focus on 'ba' since it has more restriction (= if you cannot use 'ba' because of the restriction, you use 'tara'.).

Please let us know if you have any other question.



Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 21st, 2017 at 02:11 PM
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Melanie Brunell さん、


I'm sorry for the very late reply!!!



Those would be perfect ;) (with particle が)

Imagine you're a chef in a restaurant, and you need more ingredients. So, you'll send someone to get them.

However, if the ingredient is more expensive than 'average' (which you can often buy it for),

you don't want your staff to buy them.

You only want him/her to buy some if it's cheap. You can say:




More examples...


(If I finish work early, let's grab some drinks.)

Please note that the nuance of those two sentences are different, so one is more appropriate

over the other depending on the context and/or situation.

Hope this helps!

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

Melanie Brunell
April 18th, 2017 at 08:38 AM
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I've been trying to understand the difference between -tara and -ba for a while now, and this is the clearest explanation I've heard so far. Thank you so much! ありがとうございます!:smile:

I was wondering if you could give me another example of two about the last point Hiroko sensei addressed (when you can use -ba even if the Clause B expresses one’s volition or request.).

She gave the example "if it's delicious, I'll buy it" using both -ba and -tara.

Would the sentence, "if it's could outside, I'll wear a coat," work with both tara and ba? And if both can be used, is there one that would sound more natural?



(I am not sure if I used the right particle after 外? :sweat_smile:)

And could you give me a couple more example sentences where you can use -ba and -tara when clause B expresses the speaker's volition?

Thank you for all your help! 日本語を教えてくれて、ありがとうございました!

Japanesepod101.com Verified
March 16th, 2017 at 07:54 PM
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We're glad you're enjoying the lessons!

Let us know if you have any questions.:wink:


Team Japanesepod101.com

March 15th, 2017 at 11:58 AM
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I love these videos! :heart::heart::heart: Simple explanations are the best. Thank you!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 5th, 2017 at 05:17 PM
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Nicole さん、

Konnichiwa. :smile:

Could you please give more specific questions?

Do you mean you would like to have examples?

Yuki 由紀


December 23rd, 2016 at 11:11 AM
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Thank you for this lesson! I still have trouble figuring out the difference between "if" clauses, so I like learning more information about them!