The following is an excerpt from a dialogue between me and my language partner.

The sentence in question needs some context.

I wrote to her about my struggles with real-time conversation. I also asked her whether the construction I used in the respective sentence was correct or not. The following is me telling her about my struggles and then asking her about the grammar of my sentence:

私には対話で相手に自然に答えることがいつも難しいものでした (Or would it be better to say it with a verb + にくい“ construction/pattern: 私には対話で相手に自然に答えにくいでした)。

She replied to me quoting part of my sentence and adding her commentary:

「私には対話で相手に自然に答えることがいつも難しいものでした」 という文章に「にくい」を使うかどうかですが、使わない方が自然な文章になると思います。 これが過去のことであるのならば、 「私は、対話での自然な受け答えをいつも難しいと感じました」 でいいのではないでしょうか。「対話」と「受け答え "response"」という言葉で、「相手がいる」ことははっきりわかるので、「相手に」は省略して良いでしょう。

What confuses me the most is ならば, printed in bold. However, I'm also not sure if I understood the rest correctly, so below I'll write down my translation of her entire reply above:

"Whether to use 'にくい' in the phrase 'It always was a difficult thing for me to reply to my partner naturally in a dialogue' or not, I think it becomes a more natural sentence not using it. In case this is a thing from the past, wouldn't 'I always experience a natural response in a dialogue as difficult' be fine as well? Because one knows clearly 'a partner exists' because of the words 'dialogue' and 'response', it is okay ommitting 'to the partner'.

What I did here was simply taking なら from here because that's the only result jisho gave me when searching for ならば. I must also add that until now, なら was only known to me as a suffix when picking up something up a partner in dialogue said. I thought that the conditional semantics listed on jisho suits this case better, but I might be mistaken here as well.

  • 1
    Try interpreting ならば as an inference rather than a conditional. e.g., "Since we're talking about something that happened in the past..." Look at the list of ways to translate ならば here: nihongomaster.com/dictionary/entry/864/nara-naraba
    – mamster
    Dec 28, 2017 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


As far as I understand it, 「ならば」 is basically just a more formal/literary 「なら」. See here. I think the only person I've ever heard use it in speech was a mathematics professor during lectures, but it shows up in writing.

The differences in usage between conditionals in general in Japanese is a much larger topic and has been discussed in other questions, such as this one, but if you understand 「なら」 as a conditional then you should be fine with 「ならば」.

I think

In case this is a thing from the past

is maybe not the best way to translate it, because "(just) in case" can carry nuances of preparing for or dealing with something undesirable. I think "If..." is fine, or if you want to use "case" and preserve the literary tone, you can say "In the case that...", though this is a little bit verbose.

As for the rest of your translation, I think you're getting the important stuff right. Some of the English is slightly weird, but I assume this is intentional for the sake of a very literal translation. That said, I would change

'I always experience a natural response in a dialogue as difficult'


'I always feel that natural responses in dialogue are difficult'

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