When giving/asking for advice using a conditional (Such as たら) can there be ambiguity as to if the speaker is giving or asking for advice?

For example

1.) アルバイトを探したらいいですか?

Could the above sentence share the dual meaning of "Should I look for a part time job?" (Asking for advice) and "How about you look for a part time job?" (Giving advice) while leaving the actual interpretation to the context of the conversation? Or do they just simply mean one or the other?

2.) アルバイトを探したらいいですよ

I'm assuming changing the sentence final particle to よ like in the sentence above would clear up this ambiguity by making the suggestion obvious and blunt is this correct?

3.) アルバイトを探したらどうですか?

4.) アルバイトを探したら?

Also, is there ambiguity when following the conditional with a question word (I.E.どう) or simply ending with たら and a questioning intonation?

2 Answers 2


1.) アルバイトを探したらいいですか only means "Should I look for a part time job?". ("How about you look for a part time job" can be translated to アルバイトを探したらいかがですか?)

2.) アルバイトを探したらいいです(よ) can mean (1) "You should look for a part time job", (2) "I'll allow it if you look for a part time job". Use of よ doesn't depend on which the sentence means.

3.4.) アルバイトを探したら? is, in most cases, just an omission of アルバイトを探したらどうですか? but you can say it to mean "if you look for a part time job, then what to do?".


I'm not sure if this is what you're asking, but it can be “ambiguous” in the sense that sometimes the only signifier is the raised inflection at the end (= the question mark). And, since people inflect differently, there could be times when it is unclear.


A: 私、お金がないの。 I don't have money.

B: アルバイトを探したらいい。 You should look for a job.


A: あなた、お金がないのね。 You don't have money.

B: アルバイトを探したらいい? Should I look for a job?

With the question 「アルバイトを探したらどう?」 the dual meaning manifests in a slightly different way:


A: 私、お金がないの。 I don't have money.

B: アルバイトを探したらどう? How about you look for a job?


A: あなたとは結婚{けっこん}できない。 I can't marry you.

B: アルバイトを探したらどう? How about if I look for a job?

Here, the inflections can be identical, and still work both ways.

The way I think of it:

I guess all this happens because grammatically (and therefore mentally), subjects (you/I) tend to be ambiguous in Japanese. If you strip it down, 「アルバイトを探したらいい」 is just “Good if job is searched for”. Then it's pretty natural that “Good if X.” and “Good if X?” goes in different directions, just by the inflection.

Likewise, if 「アルバイトを探したらどう?」 in caveman-speak is “Look for job, how about?”, you're actually asking the same thing in both scenarios.

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