I'm confused over the usage of conditional forms, AKA where to use them correctly, when not to use them and the differences.

Below are the forms I have learnt and my interpretation of how to use them.(sorry the computer I'm on has no Japanese keyboard)

-Tara = considered the 'safest option' in terms of conditionals, can be used in hypothetical and physical situations.(Are there any situations where tara wouldn't work?)

-ba = used for only hypothetical situations (which I don't fully understand since if it is conditional, wouldn't all the situations be hypothetical since they haven't happened?)

-Nara = contextual situations (what constitutes a contextual sentence?) 'If this is the case then...'

-baai = used with nouns and verbs, 'In the case of... then...' (this seems pretty interchangeable with nara, is this correct?

-to = only used if something will naturally happen, e.g. when it's winter it will become cold. (but surely if it naturally occurs to stops being conditional right? like... it will always become cold during winter so why not just say, It's winter it will be/become cold.)

Sorry for the long winded question but I know how to conjugate these forms but I have no idea when to use them correctly.


1 Answer 1


This is a question that I had for a long time - let me see if I can help!

-たら has a "when" sense to it. Like, "If you see me again, say hi!" you could say また会ったら、声をかけてね! Meaning if (and when) we meet again. Or if something is for sure going to die, but nobody knows when (again, more of an if or when) like 死んだら。You wouldn't want to say 死ねば... usually.

-ば This is purely conditional. You can use it when you ask, もしよしければ (can I do something) (clean yes/no answer). It is also useful for phrases like 行けばよかった (I wish I had gone, literally If I had gone it would have been good).

-なら use this to say, "If its normal" 普通なら or "If he's a teacher I would expect he knows" 先生なら知っているはず.

場合 In situations where there are a few possible outcomes.

と is used only when the outcome is absolutely certain. Like, if I go to new york, You can get good pizza. Or I'm happy when I meet you "君と会うと幸せになる”

Hope that is helpful!

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