Conditionals:   To, Ba, Tara, Nara


If/when…(What naturally follows is …) ‘to’, …(factual statement, habitual statement).

“To” marks a conditional clause and indicates:  1) a logical cause-effect relationship, and  2) an action or event and its inevitable (or natural or habitual) consequence.   So ‘to’ is best used with factual statements that describes something that is true for everyone or true every time for someone (habitual).

E.g.  秋になると、涼(すず)しくなります。(factual) 

  If/when it becomes fall, it gets cool.

        If/when it becomes summer, (I) swim in the ocean/sea everyday.


Note 1:: The conditional clause expresses something that happens, (not something the speaker or the hearer internationally does).  Therefore, it cannot be used with such endings as –mashoo, -te kudasai, and –tai desu.



General condition, factual or counterfactual statement.

“if and only if…”

It is safe to use ‘ba’ in factual statement, and especially to indicate strong hypothetical meaning.  However, ‘ba’ can be used in almost any typ of sentence of the first clause ends with and i-adjective.

E.g. お金があれば、いつでもどこへでも旅行(りょこう)に行けます。
        If one has money, one can go on a trip any time and anywhere.

        If one does not practice everyday, one does not become to be good at it.


Note 2: ’Ba’ can be used only with verb or i-adjectives.  “Verb or i-Adj. + ‘ba’, ...

Instead, ‘nara’ is used with a noun or na-adjectives for conditional statement.

E.g.  カタカナなら、書けます。If it is katakana, (I) can write it.

  日曜日なら、行けます。 If it is Sunday, (I) can go.

“Noun or na-adjective + nara” can express hypothetical meaning that ‘ba’ does with verbs and i- adjectives.  It can be used in any sentence.


Note 3:  Set phrases: a) …ba, ii deshoo ka “What (who, when…Z) should I/we do…?”  “What (who, …) would be the best…to do…?” b) “…ba, ii n desu  “All one can do is…” giving a solution to a problem in more general terms.   

A: 道(みち)にまようと、どうすればいいんでしょうか。If I get lost, what shall I do?

B: 交番(こうばん)に行っておまわりさんにきけば、いいんですよ。
Go to Koban (police box) and ask a police, that is the best.


Note 4: Common usage:   …ba, … potential forms of verbs.  Tara’ can be used here also.)

E.g.  日本へ行けば、おいしいお寿司(すし)が食べられます。
    If one goes to
Japan, one can eat delicious sushi.


    If the weather is bad tomorrow, (I, we) cannot go on a picnic.


“If (and after)…; when…”


‘Tara’ is the most useful of all the conditional words because it can be used with any type of sentence ending. 


The only time it can not be used is when the action in the first clause does not precede the action in the second.  In other words, when ‘tara’ is used with action verbs on both sides of clauses, the action expressed in the first clause (clause with ‘tara’) occurs first, followed by the action in the second clause. 

E.g.  日本に行ったら、京都を訪問(ほうもん)したいんです。
         If/when I go to
Japan, I want to visit Kyoto.

         If/when I save up money, I intend to buy a car.


         If the weather is good tomorrow, I think I will go to the ocean/sea/beach.

Verb + ‘to’ or ‘ba’ can not be used with the second clause, expressing the speaker’s or the listener’s volitional action. So use ‘tara” in such cases.  


When ‘tara’ appears in a past tense sentence, the second clause expresses an unexpected event.

E.g. 学校に行ったら、日本語のクラスは休講(きゅうこう)でした。

       When I went to school, the Japanese class was cancelled.


Note 1. Set phase: …tara doo desu ka.  Giving specific advice to the other party as to how to cope with a given situation. 

E.g.  A: 今日はちょっと気分(きぶん)がわるいんです。

     I feel sick today.

   B: じゃ、学校をやすんだら、どうですか。

          Why don’t you take a day off from school.


On the other hand, “…ba, ii n desu” means “All one can do is…” giving a solution to a problem in more general terms (see the Note 3 above).   


Suggestions for both the speaker and the listener to take a certain action would be expressed by “---masen ka” “why don’t we do …?” “Would you like to …? (proposal)”

E.g. A: のどがかわきましたね。 お茶にしませんか。

     I am thirsty.  Shall we do tea?

   B: ええ、そうしましょう。 Yes, let’s.



Conditionals:   To, Ba, Tara, Nara (continued)



Complete the sentence by adding the second clause.






























To make B’s statement into suggestions, change the words in the parenthesis and complete the sentence.


A: 明日の宿題がわかりません。

B: じゃ、先生に (ききます)。



A: 今日はお天気がいいですね。

B: ええ、ピクニックに (行きます)。