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I've looked at previous posts made on conditionals but still have a bit of trouble with なら. I was hoping someone could tell me the differences in meaning/nuance between the following sentences. The first two sentences came from A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (p.283) and apparently do exist, but the the last two I made up and would like to know if they work at all and why/why not.

テープレコーダーを買うならテープをくれるはずです。(in dictionary)

テープレコーダーを買ったならテープをくれるはずです。(in dictionary)

テープレコーダーを買ったならテープをくれたはずです。(made up)

テープレコーダーを買うならテープをくれたはずです。(made up)

Also can you have 買っている/買っていた and くれている/くれていた? This is probably a really stupid question but I'm obsessed with knowing all the possibilities.

よろしくおねがいします!

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Here are my interpretations of the four sentences, in the listed order.

(1) If [you] (are going to) buy a tape recorder, [I] expect [them] to give [you] tapes. (Statement of expected outcome. Here I would interpret the tapes to come with the recorder.)

(2) If [you] bought a tape recorder, [I] expect [them] to give [you] tapes. (Statement of expected outcome. Tapes are supplied to those who bought recorders in the past.)

(3) If [you] bought a tape recorder, [they] should have given [you] tapes. (Implies the expected outcome did not occur. They recorder was bought, but no tapes were supplied.)

(4) If [you] are going to buy a tape recorder, [they] should have given [you] tapes. (Implies the expected outcome did not occur. Tapes should have been given to someone with the intent/promise of buying a recorder in the future.)

買っている/くれている to me implies a steady/regular purchase, say a monthly shipment, for example. It than makes sense that one could expect a steady shipment of tapes to be supplied with it.

買っていた/くれていた is like (3) above but for regular shipments.

Edit: I realized 買っていた/くれていた does make sense.

  • Thank you for such a detailed answer, I really do appreciate it :) – Faolan Jan 4 '16 at 19:31
  • I read somewhere that for AならB, if B is past tense then A needs to express a past state or event. Would this mean A needs to be past tense? What do you make of this? Thanks again :) – Faolan Jan 4 '16 at 19:49
  • Can you try to find the source for that? I never heard anything like it. – Espen Nielsen Jan 4 '16 at 19:53
  • It was in the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. But as for your explanation of 「テープレコーダーを買うならテープをくれたはずです。」 it makes perfect sense to me so I'm not sure why they say it. – Faolan Jan 4 '16 at 19:57

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