After my first question was answered so beautifully, I would like to ask some more. :D

I wanted to know how to use conditionals for events in the past, like: "If I had saved my money, I would be rich now.", or: "If he hadn't eaten that many sweets, he wouldn't have become fat."

I did a google search, but somehow, all of the sites I found had different answers which contradicted each other, as each of them claimed their answer to be the only correct one.
I also found something on this site. In an answer here: Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc, there's the example:

If I had turned right back then, I wonder what would have happened.

So it seems like "-ba" is the right conditional to use in this case, but because I have read so many different answers already, I am still unsure and would like a longer explanation about which conditional(s?) can be used to build a correct sentence of the type: "If X had happened (but it didn't), then Y."

  • もし、あの時右に曲がっていれば、どうなっていた(だ)ろう。It's not the past conditional, but the counterfactual conditional. The key is to useてい(たら・たなら・れば) in the conditional clause and the past tense in the main clause.
    – Yang Muye
    Jun 20 '15 at 14:34
  • Sorry, I didn't realize there were two sorts of past conditionals. I've changed the title to make it more clear.
    – Dice
    Jun 20 '15 at 14:48

Strictly speaking, the Japanese sentence:


does not correspond to the English sentence:

"If I had turned right back then, I wonder what would have happened."

in the sense that, while the English sentence is perfect by any standard with its verb tense choices, the Japanese sentence sounds "only colloquially acceptable".

If you gave that Japanese sentence as your translation of that English sentence in a Japanese high school or college, you would surely be corrected.

The problem is with both 「曲がれば」 and 「なった」. Informally, as I stated above, we sometimes actually form this sentence with those casual-sounding tense choices. "Officially", however, the sentence would need to be formed as:

「あのとき右に曲がっていたのなら(ば)、どうなっていた(の)だろう(or のであろう)。」 or

「あのとき右に曲がっていれば(or いたら)、どうなっていた(の)だろう(or のであろう)。」

  • 1
    Hm, I think I'm starting to understand. It's not about the kind of conditional you use, but about what else you do with the verbs. That "-tei-" form used in a regular sentence means that something is happening (or was happening) at the moment, right? So, is there a deeper meaning of why it is used in this type of conditional sentence? And it's fine to omit it, if I just speak to someone I know informally, like some syllables kann be omitted from other words?
    – Dice
    Jun 21 '15 at 9:05
  • 3
    @l'électeur Interesting - I know it's been several months, but I would also like to know if the ていた is needed because it was a momentary action.
    – rhyaeris
    Jan 16 '16 at 15:28

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