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1 - 早く予約すればいい席が取れる。
2 - 早く予約すればいい席を取る。

Can someone explain why 1 is right and 2 is wrong?

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We can't use ば conditional when both clauses have volition of the same person. That's probably the reason. If we translate the 2nd sentence, then it's something like "If I will book early, I will pick a good seat" or "if you book early, you pick a good seat". On the other hand if we use 取れる, then it's not a volition, but possibility.

Also look at such nuances. While と conditional doesn't allow any volition at all, we still can say "夏になると海に行く" if it happens absolutely every summer. That's because habitual represent a state. In a similar way actions of other people are outside of our control, thus we can have 2 actions in ば sentence when both are done by different people.

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  • Thank you for your response/ So in the same vain: 車を貸してもらえれば、ドライブに行きたい。would be correct, and 車を貸してもらえると、ドライブに行きたい would be incorrect, right? Since using と in this case is using volition and it is not habitual so there is volition involved which is not allowed, BUT using potential, like be able to borrow is also a state correct? So if both of these are state statements, why is the と incorrect? Is it because the second part is not a state (not habitual), it is volition, correct?
    – fynxgloire
    Aug 31 at 7:01
  • @fynxgloire You are right. In such case 行きたい most likely represent one-two times situation or at least non-constant and it can be replaced with 行きます without significant difference in the meaning. But wishes are a bit tricky in my opinion. For example, "行きたければ、行け" (if you want to go, then go) is absolutely legit sentence despite it has two 行く and both are done by the same person. For this we need to reverse situation and look from 1st person perspective "If I want to go, then... I can / I will be urged to do it". In other words, the wish and permission/command are done by different people. Aug 31 at 7:57
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Sentence 1 is saying "it's possible to get a good seat if you book quickly".

Sentence 2 is saying "you are currently getting a good seat if you book quickly" which is a non sense. How can you be currently getting a seat if you are booking a seat for the future.

Also sentence 2 sounds like it's been cut off.

The following change would make sentence 2 mean the same thing as sentence 1:

2 - 早く予約すればいい席を取ることが出来る

The すれば part introduces a conditionality. The imperative 取る does not sounds correct when associated with this conditionality. But turning it into a possibility with 取れる or 取ることが出来る makes the sentence sound correct again.

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    I haven't voted up or down yet. But, not sure why you're saying sentence 2 is nonsense. It makes perfectly good sense in English. It sounds just like something you might hear sales person say. It also sounds like something that would be said in the context of making a reservation for a future event. If it doesn't work similarly in Japanese, please elaborate a bit more.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 30 at 15:13
  • @A.Ellett you are right, I see your point. I am not a native english speaker, that is probably why I could not translate all the nuances sentence 2 is communicating.
    – Daishi
    Sep 1 at 15:27

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