Japanese Conditional Form -
Part 3. ~ば (~ba)/~なら (~nara) Sentence -
Intermediate Lessons: 26

This lesson will continue to discuss the next Japanese conditional form - ば (ba) / なら (nara) Sentence. ば (ba) sentence is used for Verb and い-Adjective while なら (nara) sentence is used for な-Adjective and Noun.

Let's study the sentence patterns...

Sentence 1 ば/なら、 Sentence 2
(Requirement)
Affirmative
Verb (Change the last う sound
in dict-form to え sound)
ば、 Sentence 2
い-Adj (~) けれ ば、 Sentence 2
な-Adj なら、 Sentence 2
Noun なら、 Sentence 2
Negative
Verb ない-form (~ない) なければ、 Sentence 2
い-Adj (~) く なければ、 Sentence 2
な-Adj で なければ、 Sentence 2
Noun で なければ、 Sentence 2

Note: ば and なら have the same meaning. ば is used for Verb and い-adj. なら is used for な-adj and Noun. For negative, all are the same, ~なければ.

Most of the above are quite straight forward except for changing the verb in Affirmative sentence. We'll call this Japanese conditional form ば-form (ba-form).

Rules for Changing Dictionary-form to ば-form for Verbs

The following are the rules for the 3 groups of Japanese verbs.

Group 1 Verbs

Group 1 verbs always end up with words containing u-sound. To change group 1 verbs to ば-form, change the u-sound to e-sound in the last word. After that append ば (ba) to the changed words and you will get the ば-form of the verb.

For example, this group 1 verb かく (kaku) ends up with く (ku). If you change the u-sound to e-sound, く (ku) becomes け (ke). Adding ば (ba) at the end, you will get かけば (kakeba).

This group 1 verb あそぶ (asobu) ends up with ぶ (bu). If you change the u-sound to e-sound, ぶ (bu) becomes べ (be). Adding ば (ba) at the end, you will get あそべば (asobeba).

    かう -> かえば
    まつ -> まてば
    はじまる -> はじまれば
    よむ -> よめば
    はなす -> はなせば
    およぐ -> およげば

Group 2 Verbs

All group 2 verbs end up with る (ru). To change to ば-form, simply replace る (ru) with れば (reba) and you will get the ば-form of the verb.

For example, this Japanese verb たべる (taberu) is a group 2 verb. To change to ば-form, replace る (ru) with れば (reba) and you will get たべれば (tabereba).

This group 2 verb ねる (neru) means go to bed. Change る (ru) to れば (reba) and you will get ねれば (nereba).

    やめる -> やめれば
    きえる -> きえれば

Group 3 Verbs

Group 3 verbs are irregular verbs. You just have to memorize them. The ば-form of くる (kuru) is くれば (kureba) and the ば-form of する (suru) is すれば (sureba).

    くる -> くれば
    する -> すれば

Examples of Japanese Conditional Form ば (ba) / なら (nara) Sentence

  1. タクシーで行け、6時の電車に乗れるでしょう。
    takushi- de ikeba, 6 ji no densha ni noreru deshou
    Meaning: I guess if you go by taxi, you can catch the 6 o'clock train.

  2. 部屋が暗ければ、電気をつけてください。
    heya ga kurakereba, denki wo tsukete kudasai
    Meaning: Please switch on the light if the room is dark.

  3. なら、手伝ってください。
    hima nara, tetsudatte kudasai
    Meaning: Please help me if you are free.

  4. 明日雨なら、行きません。
    ashita ame nara, ikimasen
    Meaning: I won't go if it rains tomorrow.

  5. 少ししか食べなければ、痩せます。
    sukoshi shika tabenakereba, yasemasu
    Meaning: You will lose weight if you only eat a little.

  6. 忙しくなければ、明日パーティーへ行きます。
    isogashikunakereba, ashita pa-ti- e ikimasu
    Meaning: I will go to party tomorrow if I am not busy.

  7. 好きでなければ、食べなくてもいいです。
    suki denakereba, tabenakutemo ii desu
    Meaning: You don't need to eat if you don't like it.

  8. 明日いい天気でなければ、サッカーしません。
    ashita ii tenki denakereba, sakka- shimasen
    Meaning: I won't play soccer if it's not a good weather tomorrow.

Comparing と (to) and ば (ba) / なら (nara) Sentences

Japanese Conditional Form: ば/なら sentence

Actually among all the Japanese conditional forms, と (to) sentence is the most difficult to construct as it has many restrictions. Grammatically と (to) sentence can all be changed to ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence. For example...

  1. 春になる、桜が咲きます。
    haru ni naru to, sakura ga sakimasu
    Meaning: If Spring comes, the cherry blossom will bloom.

  2. 春になれ、桜が咲きます。
    haru ni nareba, sakura ga sakimasu
    Meaning: If Spring comes, the cherry blossom will bloom.

The second example above that used ば-form is also correct.

As you know, と (to) sentence has many regulations in Sentence 2. You cannot have expressions of one's will, hope, judgement, permission, order, invitation or request, etc. However, you can use these expressions if you use ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence. For example...

  1. お金がある、日本へ行きたいです。 X
    okane ga aru to, nihon e ikitai desu X
    Meaning: If I have money, I want to go to Japan.

  2. お金があれ、日本へ行きたいです。 O
    okane ga areba, nihon e ikitai desu O
    Meaning: If I have money, I want to go to Japan.

Example 1 above which used と (to) sentence is incorrect because Sentence 2 is speaker's hope. The sentence becomes correct if you use ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence as in example 2.

From the above examples, you'll notice that you can use ば (ba) / なら (nara) to connect to sentence where you could not connect using と (to). In that case, since all と (to) sentence can be changed to ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence grammatically, then you probably think why do we learn と (to) sentence in the first place.

We are now only focusing on the grammatical point of view. So it may seem that there's no point of learning と (to) sentence. But there are other aspects and reasons (which I'll explain in next lesson) that why different types of Japanese conditional forms are available.

Japanese Conditional Form ば (ba) / なら (nara) Sentence Regulation

Although ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence is less strict than と (to) sentence, there's still one regulation that you need to take care of.

When the subject of Sentence 1 is the same as that of Sentence 2...

Sentence 1 Sentence 2
-Action Verb Cannot have expressions of speaker's will, hope,
order, judgement, request, invitation, permission,
prohibition, etc
-State Verb/Adj/Noun No regulation

Note: Subject of sentence - the person who takes action.

Action Verb is verb that requires some action of the speaker. For example: 食べる (taberu), 飲む (nomu), 走る (hashiru), 行く (iku), 見る (miru), 遊ぶ (asobu), 出る (deru), 出掛ける (dekakeru), etc.

State Verb is verb that requires no action. It's a state. For example: ある (aru) and いる (iru) are existence, no action required. A potential verb is also considered as a state verb.

Let's use an example to explain the above sentence regulation...

  1. 東京に行く、東京スカイツリーを見たいです。 X
    toukyou ni iku to, toukyou sukaitsuri- wo mitai desu X
    Meaning: If I go to Tokyo, I want to see Tokyo Skytree.

  2. 東京に行け、東京スカイツリーを見たいです。 X
    toukyou ni ikeba, toukyou sukaitsuri- wo mitai desu X
    Meaning: If I go to Tokyo, I want to see Tokyo Skytree.

  3. 東京に行ったら、東京スカイツリーを見たいです。 O
    toukyou ni ittara, toukyou sukaitsuri- wo mitai desu O
    Meaning: If I go to Tokyo, I want to see Tokyo Skytree.

Example 1 is obviously incorrect because you cannot have one's hope in Sentence 2 for と (to) sentence.

In Example 2 above, who is going to Tokyo? -> "I" (Sentence 1's subject). Who want to see Tokyo Skytree? -> "I" (Sentence 2's subject). Since the subjects of both sentences are the same ("I"), and the verb in Sentence 1 is an action verb - 行く (iku), you cannot have speaker's hope 見たい (mitai) in Sentence 2. Therefore Example 2 is also incorrect because it did not fulfill the regulation for ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence.

So the correct answer is to use たら (tara) sentence for the above example. たら (tara) sentence (which you'll learn in next lesson) has less regulations as compared to と (to) and ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentences, Grammatically it can replace all と (to) and ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentences. However, there are reasons why we use と (to) sentence and why we use ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence. I'll get into that in next lesson.

Check the Examples Against the Sentence Regulation

Let's re-look at the 8 examples of Japanese conditional form ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence above and check them against the sentence regulation.

  1. タクシーで行け、6時の電車に乗れるでしょう。
    Both Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 have the same subject of "You", and Sentence 1 has action verb - 行く (iku). But 乗れる (noreru) in Sentence 2 is a potential verb. It's not one's hope, will, request, etc. So this sentence is correct.

  2. 部屋が暗ければ、電気をつけてください。
    暗い (kurai) is an adjective. So this sentence is correct because there's no regulation for adjective in Sentence 1.

  3. なら、手伝ってください。
    暇 (hima) is also an adjective. So this sentence is also correct.

  4. 明日雨なら、行きません。
    雨 (ame) is a noun. Similar to adjective, there's no regulation for noun in Sentence 1. So this sentence is correct.

  5. 少ししか食べなければ、痩せます。
    Both Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 have the same subject of "You", and Sentence 1 has action verb - 食べる (taberu). But 痩せます (yasemasu) is not one's hope, will, order, order, request, etc. It's a state. Therefore this sentence is correct.

  6. 忙しくなければ、明日パーティーへ行きます。
    忙しい (isogashii) is an adjective. So this sentence is correct.

  7. 好きでなければ、食べなくてもいいです。
    好き (suki) is an adjective. So this sentence is correct.

  8. 明日いい天気でなければ、サッカーしません。
    天気 (tenki) is a noun. So this sentence is correct.

Practices on Japanese Conditional Form ば (ba) / なら (nara) Sentence

Let's check if you can tell whether the following 2 examples are correct for the Japanese conditional form ば (ba) / なら (nara) sentence. Try to solve them yourself before looking at the answers below.

  1. 父がいいと言え、犬を飼いたいです。
    chichi ga ii to ieba, inu wo kaitai desu
    Meaning: If my father agrees, I want to keep a dog.

  2. お酒を飲め、運転してはいけません。
    osake wo nomeba, untenshitewa ikemasen
    Meaning: You must not drive if you drink alcohol.

Answers

  1. 言う (iu) in Sentence 1 is an action verb. The subject of Sentence 1 is 父 (chichi) - "My father", while the subject in Sentence 2 is 私 (watashi) - "I". Since the subjects of Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 are different, the regulation does not apply. Therefore this sentence is correct.

  2. The subject of Sentence 1 is あなた (anata) - "You", and the subject of Sentence 2 is also あなた (anata) - "You". 飲む (nomu) in Sentence 1 is an action verb, so you cannot have expression of one's hope, wish, request, permission, prohibition, etc in Sentence 2. Since 運転してはいけません (untenshitewa ikemasen) is a prohibition, this sentence is incorrect.

Have you got your answers right?

Related Pages

Lesson 24: と (to) Sentence.

Lesson 25: ても (temo) Sentence.

Lesson 27: たら (tara) Sentence.

Lesson 28: たら (tara) Sentence Special Case.

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