Sometimes my girlfriend is nice, but other times she's scary.

it appears that あれば is being used in a way that has nothing to do with conditionals. Is this the case? Or is there some conditional interpretation of this sentence that accurately conveys the meaning of this sentence?

As for my girlfriend, if there are even times she is kind, there are also times when she is scary.

Forcing a conditional interpretation doesn't seem to work very well in English. But is this still what the sentence literally means?

EDIT: I was under the impression that -えば conditionals always have antecedents that are presumed (currently) false by the speaker. But "優しいこと" seems (currently) presumed true by the speaker. So it's very perplexing why あれば can be used to mean "sometimes" here!


1 Answer 1


The structure is used to express contrast. "If she has a kind side then she also has an intimidating side." "My girlfriend has a kind side and a harsh side." "Sometimes she is nice, sometimes she is scary." Technically, the syntax is a conditional but the derived meaning is not. This makes more logical sense when the structure is used to make broader generalizations such as "If there are good things, then there are also bad things." いいこともあれば、悪いこともある。Or "Some like baseball, others like soccer." 野球が好きな人もいれば、サッカーが好きな人もいる。So, technically, whether or not she has a scary side depends on her having a kind side as well. But we can take away that the sentence means she has both sides.

  • I am sorry but, how does this answer the original question? Is the answer a "yes, it carries conditional meaning" or "no, it does not carry a conditional meaning"? Because you first say "the derived meaning is not [conditional]" but afterwards you also say "whether or not she has a scary side depends on her having a kind side as well" implying that it does have a conditional interpretation.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 15:33
  • No need to be sorry. The short answer is, despite using a conditional structure "if A than also B", the meaning of the sentence is both A and B or sometimes A and sometimes B.
    – mbowden
    Commented Mar 6 at 15:16

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