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One of my textbooks says:

When たら used with N/なadjective+ではない, は should be omitted. So it should be でなかったら NOT ではなかったら.

This seems strange because it never explains why.

However, I do see sentences like this:

ここで質問することではなかったらすみません。

Now I am puzzled why the text makes such statements.

This textbook is widely used in my country, probably more than 100 million people are using or have used it. It should not contain so many errors.

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what textbook is it –  ssb Nov 27 '13 at 9:17
    
Does it actually say ではなかったら is wrong? –  snailboat Nov 27 '13 at 9:19
    
the 35th lesson of 新版中日交流标准日本语. It is a textbook for native Chinese, so you guys who speak English may never heard about it. –  James King Nov 27 '13 at 9:20
    
@snailboat It does not actually say it is wrong. It just says "は should be omitted". In the 35th lesson of 新版中日交流标准日本语. –  James King Nov 27 '13 at 9:21
    
Please don't take my words too seriously, as I'm far below your j-skill probably. But, considering what I observe in my native language and in english (which I think I know relatively well), there's quite a gap between what textbook teaches and the real language. I think that the textbook very precisely states "should be omitted" as a suggestion/advice, because it's the correct way. However, out in the wild, not only correct forms are being used. People often speak (and write!) with small "errors" or "regional differences" or sometimes just for laughs. Maybe you are simply observing it? –  quetzalcoatl Nov 27 '13 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

Textbooks vs. People.

Careful speakers would not say ではなかったら, that is for sure, but not all of us are careful speakers and some of us will say it anyway. Textbooks need to draw the line somewhere and I feel yours made a good decision regarding this grammar point.

More interestingly, the sentence you gave 「ここで質問することではなかったらすみません。」 is VERY tricky. It is actually good even with that は. It is good only because the たら-clause is followed by すみません instead of a whole mini-sentence describing an effect/result arising from the condition expressed in the たら-clause. For instance, if a ほかの場所で質問します followed the たら-clause instead of a すみません, the は would look unnecessary as far as school grammar was concerned.

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