I'm having a bad time with this expression:


I kind of know what it means after a long time spent searching on the Internet, but I just can't grasp how this expression works on a grammar point of view.

Why the conditional? Does the literal translation is something around the lines of "If I say something, is it OK? I don't know..." meaning "I don't know what to say"? Or is it something like "What is something good to say? I don't know..." but if that's the case, why 言えば and not 言う?

Edit: is it something like:
言えば : if I say...
何といいのか : what is good? (If I say)
わからない: I don't know...

Even if it's correct can somebody confirm it? (Or denies)


1 Answer 1


言えばいいのか can be translated into a part of "I don't know what would be good to say"

would be good to say '=. 言えばいいのか

Difference between ENG and JPN is ENG puts conditional statement on "state" while JPN puts conditional statement on "motion".

  • Could you (or anyone) please elaborate on what you mean by "...conditional statement on motion."?
    – G-Cam
    Dec 27, 2016 at 15:32
  • 1
    @G-Cam My guess is the answerer is trying to say the Japanese conditional always comes with verbs (motion), whereas in English if-clauses are about "states". For example, here 言えば is a conditional. I am not sure I agree with that assessment.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 7, 2021 at 23:03

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