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My grammar book says they both mean ‘if that’s the case...’ but it doesn’t clarify the differences.

Thank you!

  • Possibly related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/5643/… – BJCUAI Aug 11 '18 at 22:41
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    Sore Nara can only be used when what you say next is directly related to what precedes it, as in 'if that's the case' or 'if that's true'. Sore dewa can be used like in English 'well' or 'well then' to change the subject such as 'well, let's start'. The shorter form of soredewa is 'ja'. – James Edwards Aug 12 '18 at 8:02
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それなら implies that the speaker anticipated multiple possible answers, or didn't anticipate what was just said. It's fundamentally more reactive.

おなかすいたな (I'm hungry)
それならご飯にしようか (if that's the case, let's have a lunch)

それでは can be interchangeably used here and when used like that, it sounds a bit more formal than それなら.

In addition, それでは is also used in the context where the speaker is actively suggesting/driving a topic.

それでは試験を始めます (we shall begin the exam)

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