I've looked into this and it seems they are multiple ways with multiple nuances of saying "if (A) would have happened, then (B) would have happened. (third conditional ?)

My question is about:

誰が持ってても失くしてたんだよ きっと

To give context, it is a group of kids who share the responsability/usage of a single wallet, like their parents entrusted them with it. One kid who was holding on to it lost it. Then one of the other kids, says the following in words of comfort :

Anyone who would have had it/hold on to it would have lost it. For sure

That would be my english translation.

My meaning assumption with the nuances I understand : Even if it would have been someone else who had it, he would have lost it anyway. For sure.

I'm sure these translation/meaning assumption should be pretty close to it, but i'm very interested in your understanding/translation of this.

Now for the grammar I understand:

誰が= who, someone, anyone (why not ‎誰かが ?)

持ってても --> ていた (て form) + も = reverse condition = "even if" in that sentence, which creates the conditional form

失くしてた --> ていた = ている use for expressing state, or state as a result of actions in that case. = had lost it, I assume you get the meaning of "would" from the first part of the phrase, (like the も implies condition for both parts ?) Or at least that is my understanding from Tofugu Or is it something else that makes it a "would have" conditional verb ?

んだよ = のですよ = emphasis/explanation

My question is about 失くしてた : first of all why not 失くした and what different meaning it would imply ? What is the exact grammar point/ meaning for ていた in that case since Tofugu explains it only briefly? And what makes it a conditional phrase since this is a transitive verb ?

Also why 誰が and not 誰かが for saying anyone/anyone of us ?

Overall, is my understanding of the grammar points right ?

Have a great day

Edit : After reading stuff for 4 hours, I came upon this post which comes close to my understanding of this, but unfortunately not very detailed :

"However, if such sentence were about someone else and hypothetical meaning was possible, then the use of ている is preferred with both verbs similar to how we use past tense in English to make it counterfactual."

What I understood from all my reading is :

  • This sentence uses the Third Conditional form which needs ている to be applied on both clauses.

  • て form + も in the verb of the first clause indicates conditional

  • The third conditional in english always uses counterfactual sentences (see here, I don't know if that is the case in japanese ?

If anyone had adademic ressources or personal input for japanese third conditional (or counterfactual past conditional) that would be great !

1 Answer 1



We don't say 誰か because it means "someone" (a single definite person from a group) and the idea here is that "anyone" would have lost it. However, this 誰 means "who" as a subject and not "someone", "anyone" or "everyone".

Similar to English: "Who ate the cake?". "Who" is the subject. In this sentence, 誰 works in the exact same way, it acquires the meaning of anyone by remaining undefined.

持ってても -> 持っていても -> 持って + いる (in て form) + も

て form + も means: "Even".

The "If" or conditional nuance comes from the て form. Similarly to English: "Wait and see" meaning "If you wait, you will see". Remember how the て form is used to mean "and".

失くしてた -> 失くして + いる (in the past)

In this case 失くしてた is used instead of 失くした because 失くしてた puts emphasis on the idea that the loss has already occurred at a given point in the past and now we are experiencing the consequences.

失くした focuses on the particular point in time we lost it. Given the nature of the sentence we can see why 失くしてた is used here. You could also say it is the way third conditionals are made. See Here for conditionals.

So, your translation is indeed correct.

  • very interesting, thanks. I think a part that can be confusing on your "Wait and see" explanation is that you say "て form + も means: "Even", but then you say "The "If" or conditional nuance comes from the て form". It seems wrong to me because something like 持って失くす would be "Have and (then) loose", and 持っても失くす would be "Even if you have, you loose (or will loose)". In the way that I understand it the "If" really comes from the も rather than the て form which could just be "and".
    – Unaware17
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:12
  • I mean that "If" comes from the て form + も but does not directly "comes from the て form", and although something like 持って失くす can mean "Have and loose" it does not carry the meaning of "If you have, you will loose" like "Have and loose" in english (although it doesn't seem natural) would carry. The "If" comes from the て form + も rather than the て form alone, so I think your "Wait and see" explanation seems very confusing (or inaccurate ?).
    – Unaware17
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:22
  • It seems to me that you cannot directly translate "Wait and see" in both meanings of "Wait and you will see" or "If you wait, you will see" in japanese, it would have to be something like "Wait and if see" which doesn't make sense in english, to get the same meaning in japanese.
    – Unaware17
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:32
  • When we have て form + CLAUSE, the て form plays a connective role that means "and" but this "and" may take the extended meaning of a conditional (indicating the cause of something). I get your point that this is not really a conditional in the same way "Wait and see" is not a conditional nor am I saying that "wait and see" can be translated word by word to Japanese. I mean the connective form CLAUSE 1 AND CLAUSE 2 can indicate cause (CLAUSE 1) and effect (CLAUSE 2). However, in this case you can see it as you please.
    – 0149234
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 12:40
  • I think the conditional nuance must come from て because も just sets the topic of the sentence (like は) but in an inclusive manner (unlike the distinctive は). Lastly think about a sentence like this: 食べていいよ.
    – 0149234
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 12:49

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