Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 3: 15/18


Were it, If, If it's the case, As for (Conditional)

なら replaces だ when used with nouns or な-adjectives




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About なら

As mentioned in our lesson about , なら is often used by itself to mean 'if'. This is considered to be an abbreviation of ならば, the hypothetical form of なり, a classical auxiliary verb that is not used much in modern Japanese.
Because なり originally meant 'to be', it functions in a similar way to the auxiliary verb . This means that it regularly pairs with nouns, or phrases that have been nominalized (become noun-like), through the use of .
  • 田舎(いなか)()のならば(くるま)()たほうがいい
    If you are going to live in the countryside, it would be better to buy a car.
  • (さむ)のならば、ジャケット()といいだろう
    If it is cold, you should wear a jacket.
  • 無理(むり)ならいい
    If it is not possible, it's okay.
  • デザートなら(なん)でも()られます
    If it is a dessert, I can eat anything. (If it is dessert, I like anything)
However, unlike (or です), なら is also regularly used without the extra help of for nominalization, and can be attached directly to verbs or い-Adjectives.
  • (わたし)(くるま)使(つか)なら、いつ使(つか)(おし)てください
    If you are going to use my car, please let me know when.
  • (あつ)ならその上着(うわぎ)()でください
    If you are hot, please take off that jacket.
Because なら is an abbreviation of ならば, it is strictly used when making guesses about what 'may', or what 'could' happen in certain situations. This means that it will not be used as 'if' in statements about results that are produced through some sort of effort/training.
  • 練習(れんしゅう)するなら漢字(かんじ)()のが上手(じょうず)になる
    If you are going to practice, you will get good at writing kanji. (Unnatural Japanese, as becoming 'good' is a natural result of practicing)
Fun Fact
Although なら comes from the classical auxiliary verb なり, it should not be confused with the particle なり, which often has the meaning of 'as soon as', or 'just after'. Thankfully, the particle なり is also quite uncommon in modern Japanese.





    If you are going on a trip, please buy me some gifts. (if it is the case)


    If the homework is hard, let's do it together. (if it is the case)


    If it's you, you can do it. (if it is the case)


    As for Japanese, it would be better if you asked the teacher. (in the case of)


    If you are going to go again, please don't come back. (in the case of)

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なら – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (20 in total)

  • nekoyama


    もし can be used with hypotheticals to reinforce that nuance. Reinforcing that something is hypothetical means you’re less certain about it. For example, you’ll often see もし in expressions like “もしよかったら…” because the speaker doesn’t want to presume how the other party feels.

    If we’re comparing なら and たら only, then the biggest difference is that the sequence of events is reversed.
    In “AたらB”, event B occurs after event A. “Once/when/if A happens, then B.”
    In “AならB”, event A can occur after event B but not before it. “If A is/were/will be the case, then B”.

    I found this example on Amazon (as a sticker):

    飲んだら乗るな - don’t drive if you drank something
    乗るなら飲むな - if you’re going to drive, don’t drink

    From a learne...

  • onekun


    This reply is an excellent resource, I think I got the basic difference down, but I’ll reference it if I ever get confused. Bookmarked.

    So would you use と and ば instead? How would you construct that?

    I would ask what the nuance is with と vs ば, but it’d fit better in one of their respective threads and I could almost infinitely ask about nuance so I don’t want to kill you with grammar questions, haha.

  • nekoyama


    I’ll just steal the example from the page I linked:


    This is something the speaker used to do often during summer vacation - not just once.

    (There is a separate grammar point for how もの is used in this sentence to express something that used to happen in the past.)

    It’s not strictly necessary to use a conditional - e.g. the たものだ grammar point’s examples just use 夏休みは etc.

    In general terms, when both ば and と can be used, the nuance difference is that ば focuses on the condition (and how to make it true) while と focuses on the result.

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