How to use なら ( = nara)



= Nihongo wo benkyou suru nara Maggie Sensei no saito dayo.

= If you want to study Japanese, you should use Maggie Sensei’s site.

Hi everyone!

Today I will teach you how to use なら ( = nara)
It is going to be a long lesson so please get a cup of coffee before you start reading this lesson. 

OK, ready?

⭐️How to form:

* noun + (particle/conjunction+)  なら  ( = nara)

* adjective + なら ( = nara)

* verb plain form  (present tense / past tense) + なら ( = nara)

When you emphasize, you add ( = no)

:rrrr: *adjective + ( = no) +  なら ( = nara)

:rrrr: * verb plain form (present tense/ past tense)  + ( = no) +   なら ( = nara)

1) Emphasizing what comes before /  Expressing one’s ability or characteristic showing your trust.

Ex. マギーならできるよ。

= Maggie nara dekiru yo.

= I believe you can do it, Maggie. / You can definitely do it, Maggie.

(Showing the speaker’s strong belief or trust.)

Ex. 「一人で生活するのは不安だなあ。」

= Hitori de seikatsu suru nowa fuan danaa.

= I feel uneasy about living on my own.


= Hana chan nara daijoubu dayo.

= You will be just fine, Hana-chan.  (I know you will be fine.)

Ex. なら娘を任せても心配ない。

= Kare nara musume wo makasete mo shinpai nai.

= I believe he can take care of my daughter. (I trust him.)

Ex. あの店なら何を食べても美味しい。

= Ano mise nara nani wo tabete mo oishii.

= I know everything is delicious in that restaurant. (I trust that place.)

Ex. この車なら8人は乗れる。

= Kono kuruma nara hachinin wa noreru.

= This car can hold 8 passengers. (It is big enough.)

Ex. マギー先生ならなんでも答えてくれると思ったのに…。

= Maggie Sensei nara nandemo kotaete kureru to omotta noni…

= I thought you could answer any questions, Maggie…(but you can’t.) (I trusted her but..)

 :rrrr: From Maggie Sensei: Not true. Sorry!  😅


2) To emphasize or to give some condition.

(Note: You can replace it with (ん)だったら ( = (n) dattara) )

Ex. 100均ショップなら何でも買えるのに。

= Hyakkin shoppu nara nandemo kaeru noni.

= I would be able to buy anything if it were a dollar shop. (But not in this store.)

Ex. なら50%引きです。

= Ima nara gojuppaasento biki desu.

= If you buy it now, it will be 50 pct off.

(Emphasizing that it is cheap just now.)

Ex. 「小型犬なら飼ってもいいよ。」

= Kogataken nara katte mo iiyo.

= If it is a small dog, we can have one. (limiting the choice/giving a condition)

Ex. あと、2000円安くなるなら買います。

= Ato, nisen en yasuku naru nara kaimasu.

= If it goes down by 2,000 yen, I will buy it.

Ex. 「フレンチブルドッグなら欲しい。」

= Furenchi burudoggu nara hoshii.

= I only want a dog if it’s a French Bulldog.

Ex. 明日ならつきあってもいいよ。

= Ashita nara tsukiatte mo iiyo.

= I can go out with you if it is tomorrow.

Ex. 「ケーキをどうぞ。」

= Keiki wo douzo.

= Please have some cake.


= Amai mono wa taberaremasen ga, sukoshi nara…

= I don’t eat sweets, but if it is just a little…

Ex. この漢字なら読めます。

= Kono kanji nara yomemasu.

= I can read this kanji. (If it is this kanji, I can read it.)

Ex. Maggie: 「学校の宿題なら手伝いません。」

= Maggie: Gakkou no shukudai nara tetsudaimasen.

(I will help you but) If it’s your school homework, I won’t help you.

Ex. こういう時、私ならお金を誰かから借ります。

= Kouiu toki, watashi nara okane wo dare ka kara karimasu.

= If it were me, I would borrow money from someone in that kind of situation.


3) To emphasize the topics. (If you are talking about ~ then..)

This usage is hard to translate…

You can emphasize the topics by using なら ( = nara)

Ex. ドギー大学なら知っています。

= Doggie daigaku nara shitte imasu.

= If you are talking about Doggie University,  I do know that university.

= I do know Doggie University.

Ex. マギー先生なら会ったことがあります。

= Maggie sensei  nara atta koto ga arimasu.

= (If you are talking about that Maggie Sensei, Yes!)  I do have seen Maggie sensei.

Ex. 「お母さんはいますか?」

= Okaasan wa imasu ka?

= Is your mother there?


= Okaasan nara ima, ie ni inai desu.

= If you are looking for my mother,  she is not home now.

= My mother is not home now.

Note: So we don’t always use なら ( = nara) in a conditional sentence.

For example, when someone asks you about something/someone and when you answer emphasizing what you are talking about, you use なら(= nara)


= Sumimasen. Kono hen ni konbini wa arimasuka?

= Excuse me. Is there a convenience store around here?

「 コンビニならあそこにありますよ。」

= Konbini nara asoko ni arimasuyo.

= If you are looking for a convenience store, it is right over there.

= The convenience store is right over there.

Ex. なら大丈夫。気にしないで。

= Watashi nara daijoubu. Ki ni shinaide.

=  (If you are concerned about me,) I AM  good. Don’t worry.

★ ~ + なら ( = nara) + noun: Giving a suggestion, recommending something showing one’s trust.

You will see this pattern in catchphrases.

Ex. 日本に行くなら京都

= Nihon ni iku nara Kyouto

= If you go to Japan, you should go visit Kyoto.

Ex. 東京に行くなら新幹線

= Toukyou ni iku nara shinkansen

= If you go to Tokyo, use the shinkansen (bullet train).

Ex. 友達と旅行に行くならハワイ、彼と旅行に行くならヨーロッパがいいな。

= Tomodachi to ryokou ni iku nara, hawai, kare to ryokou ni iku nara youroppa ga iina. 

= If I go traveling with my friend(s), I would like to go to Hawaii. If I go traveling with my boyfriend, I would like to go to Europe. 

Ex. 名古屋なら味噌カツ!

= Nagoya nara misokatsu!

= If you go to Nagoya, you have to try Misokatsu (pork cutlet topped with miso sauce)

(To understand this pattern better, you can add がいいです( = ga ii desu) = is preferable, ~をおすすめします。( = o osusume shimasu).)

From the picture above:

「日本語を勉強するならマギー先生のサイトだよ。」 !niconico!  

= Nihongo wo benkyou suru nara Maggie Sensei no saito dayo.

= If you want to study Japanese, you should use Maggie Sensei’s site.

( “You should go visit Maggie Sensei’s site/ I highly recommend Maggie Sensei’s site.”)

3) Conditional sentence: If ~

verb + ( = no*) + なら ( = nara)

verb + なら ( = nara)

adjective + ( = no*) + なら ( = nara)

noun + なら ( = nara)


*When you emphasize the meaning, you add ( = no)

*The following sentence of ~ なら ( = nara) tends to be used for advice, suggestions, requests, etc.

*You can replace it with verb + のだったら ( = no dattara) / (casual) verb + んだったら( = ndattara)

*Sometimes you add ~ば ( = ba) →なら ( = ba) . It sounds a little more formal.

Check my

~ ば ( = ba) lesson.


*Giving advice:

Ex. もし冬に日本に行くならコートを持っていった方がいいよ。

= Moshi fuyu ni nihon ni iku nara kooto wo motte itta hou ga iiyo.

= If you are going to Japan in winter, you should take a coat with you.

Note: You can’t replace 行くなら ( = ikunara) with 行ったら ( = ittara) here.

But you can replace it with 行くのだったら ( = iku no dattara) / (casual) 行くんだったら ( = ikun dattara)

Ex. 彼女とデートに行くならば、ディズニーランドよりディズニーシーの方がいいかもしれないよ。

= Kanojo to deeto ni iku naraba, dizunii rando yori  dizunii shii no hou ga iikamo shirenaiyo.

= If you are going to take her out for a date, I think Disney Sea might be better than Disneyland.

Ex. そんなに暑いのなら上着を脱げばいいのに。

= Sonna ni atsui no nara uwagi wo nugeba iinoni.

= If you are that hot, why don’t you take off your jacket?

Ex. 忙しいなら断っていいよ。

= Isogashii nara kotowatte iiyo.

= If you are busy, you can decline.

*You can use it with a particle.

Ex. 彼女ならなんでも買ってあげたい。

= Kanojo ni nara nandemo katte agetai.

= I would buy anything (if it is)  for her.

Ex. あなたのためなら何でもします。

= Anata no tame nara nandemo shimasu.

= I would do anything (if it is) for you.

Ex. コンサートが8時からなら間に合うんだけど。

= Konsaato ga hachiji kara nara maniaun dakedo.

=If the concert starts at eight, I would be able to make it./ I can make it.

Ex. までなら乗せてあげるよ。

= Eki made nara nosete ageru yo.

= I will give you a ride if you are going to the station.

* Giving a  request

Ex. もし出かけるなら卵を買ってきて。

= Moshi dekakeru nara tamago wo katte kite.

= If you are going out, buy some eggs.

Ex. 答えを知っているのなら教えてよ。

= Kotae wo shitte iru no nara oshiete yo.

= If you know the answer, just tell me.

Ex. 困っているなら相談してください。

= Komatte iru nara soudan shite kudasai.

= If you are in trouble,  talk to me. (consult with me.)

Ex. これ、食べないならもらってもいい?

= Kore, tabenai nara moratte mo ii?

= If you’re not going to eat this, can I have it?

* conclusion, decision

Ex. 明日、雨なら行きません。

= Ashita, ame nara ikimasen.

= If it rains tomorrow, I won’t go.

Ex. 結婚してくれないなら別れます。

= Kekkon shite kurenai nara wakaremasu.

= If you are not planning to marry me, I will break up with you.

Ex. 生まれてくる赤ちゃんが男の子なら、マギ男、女の子ならマギ子という名前をつけます。

= Umarete kuru akachan ga otoko no ko nara, Magio, onnanoko nara Magiko toiu namae wo tsukemasu.

= If my unborn baby is a boy, I will name him “Maggio” and if the baby is a girl, I will name her “Magiko”.

 !star! The difference between なら ( = nara) and たら ( = tara)

Note 1)

a) マギーが出かけるなら私も行きます。

= Maggie ga dekakeru nara watashi mo ikimasu.

b) マギーが出かけたら私も行きます。

= Maggie ga dekaketara watashi mo ikimasu.

a) can be replaced with 出かけるのだったら ( = dekakeru no dattara) /  ( casual)  出かけるんだったら ( = dekakerun dattara)

a) means “If you go out, I will go out with you, Maggie. / If Maggie goes out, I will go with her.”

b) means I will go out after Maggie leaves.”

Note 2): verb + ( = no) + なら ( = nara)

When you emphasize the condition of the verb, you add ( = no) before なら ( = nara) .


= Maggie ga dekakeru nara watashi mo ikimasu.



= Maggie ga dekakeru no nara watashi mo ikimasu.

★*past tense ~た ( = ta) + なら ( = nara): hypothetical usage: When you assume something. / to state something counterfactual

You can  add ば  ( = ba) to emphasize the feeling.

 :rrrr: なら( = naraba)

 (I will make a lesson on (=ba) sometime.)

Note: You can replace it with ~たら ( = tara)

Ex. もし父がここにいたなら)なんと言うだろう。

= Moshi chichi ga koko ni ita nara nanto iu darou.

= If my father were here, I wonder what he would say.

Ex. もしも祖父が生きていたなら私の結婚をきっと喜んでくれるだろう。

= Moshimo sofu ga ikite itanara watashi no kekkon wo kitto yorkon de kureru darou.

= If my grandfather were alive, I am sure he would be very happy for my marriage.


それなら ( = sorenara): If so, if that’s the case, then

Ex. 「天ぷらが食べたいんですか?それなら天喜がいいですよ。」

= Tenpura ga tabetain desuka? Sore nara tenki ga ii desu yo.

= So you want to eat tempura? Then I recommend Tenki.

Ex. 「それなら、今夜、行ってみます。」

= Sore nara, konya, itte mimasu.

= OK, then I will give it a try and go there tonight.

Ex. 「早く、行こうよ!時間がないんだから。」

= Hayaku, ikou yo! Jikan ga nain dakara.

= Hurry up! Let’s go!! We are running out of time.


= Sore nara tetsudatte yo.

= Then help me!

Ex. A: 「ハワイに行かない?」

= Hawai ni ikanai?

= Do you want to go to Hawaii?


= Sonna okane naiyo.

= I can’t afford it.


= Boku ga zenbu haratte ageru.

= I will pay everything for you.

B: 「それなら話は別!行く!行く!!」

= Sorenara hanashi wa betsu! Iku! Iku!!

= Then it’s a different story. I am definitely going!

Ex. 夫:「今から、会社の同僚を家に連れてくるから。」

= Otto:  Imakara, kaisha no douryou wo ie ni tsurete kuru kara.

= Husband: I will take my coworkers home soon.


=Tsuma; Sorenara souto motto hayaku itte kurereba ii noni.

= Wife: You should have said so earlier.

*Colloquial usage:

We often start a sentence with なら ( = nara) in conversation.: If so, then,…

Ex. 「お茶がもうないよ。」

= Ocha ga mou naiyo.

= We are running out the tea already.


= Nara, watashi ga katte kuruyo.

= Then I will go get some.

Ex. 「ええっ、iPhoneが動かない。だから触るなって言ったのに。」

= Eeh, ai hon ga ugokanai. Dakara sawaruna tte itta noni.

= What? My iPhone is not working. That is why I told you not to touch it!


= Nara, shuuridai wo haraeba iin desho.

= OK, then I will pay for the repair cost.  So that’s that!

Ex. ウェイター:「こちらのお料理はあと30分かかりますが。」

= Weitaa: Kochira no oryouri wa ato sanjuppun kakarimasu ga.

= Waiter: It will take another 30 minutes for this dish. (Is that OK?)

客: 「ああ、なら別のものを頼みます。」

= Aa, nara betsu no mono wo tanomimasu.

= Oh, then I will order something else.


maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Nekogo wa amari yoku wakarimasen ga, inugo nara omakase kudasai.

= I don’t understand “cat” language very well but you can count on me for “dog” language.


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  1. Hi Maggie sensei.

    I was wondering why in the following sentnce it was used 何 instead of 何も to express everything is delicious (anything is delicious):

    I’m a bit confused.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Evon
      何も is used in a negative sentence.
      何も美味しくない Nothing is delicious.

      何 in that sentence is actually an object so you use an object marker を
      何を食べますか? What would you like to eat?
      魚を食べます I will have fish.


      何を〜ても is a sentence pattern and it means “whatever you do ~ = everything one does ~ is ~ ”
      何をしても面白い Whatever someone does is funny = Everything someone does is funny
      何を読んでもつまらない Whatever I read is boring. = Everything I read is boring.

      If you want to say this sentence without a verb, you can use 何でも

  2. Hello Maggie Sensei,

    In the following sentence I chose b, したら but it was wrong, the correct answer is a するなら. Can anyone explain what is the difference between them, I know they both mean something that did not occur and for なら you are trying to influence someone to do something, but that is NOT the case here.
    Also what does this sentence mean, I don’t get the かっこう part?


    a するなら

    b したら


    Can you make a page that explains the differences between たら、なら, ば、etc.
    No where on your website you explain when to use one or the other, I have to read the whole section and then try to guess the differences between them.

    Thx in advance

    1. Hi Mark
      いいレストランで食事をするなら+ suggestion
      いいレストランで食事をしたら+ what is going to happen
      かっこう(格好) = in this case it means “clothes”

  3. Hello Maggie Sensei,


    I just want you to check my translation:
    A: I have to take the Shinkansen at 5, it looks like I will be late, hurry up!
    B: If you do not have time, let me clean up ( prepare for future?) hurry up and leave?

    So my question is, is B saying I will clean and not go, you go ahead? Or is B saying I will clean and also go with you?

    Thx in advance

  4. Hello Sensei! Thanks for this helpful article as always :D
    This isn’t exactly about ‘nara’ but it could be… So there’s a sentence that I thought I understood at first, but then I noticed one of the words wasn’t the word I thought it was and that messed the meaning up. Now the more I try to make sense of it the more lost I get and it’s gotten to the point where I’m rechecking every single word’s meaning, nara included;; Even though it’s such a simple sentence..!

    Would you please translate it for me? It’s:
    > やる気なら世間知らずさ

    1. FunFun

      It is from the lyrics of STELLA TRAIL?
      The sentence やる気なら世間知らず doesn’t really make sense so I understand you have a trouble translating it.
      Lyrics and poems are hard to translate because you have to read between the lines or interpret the meaning of the word in your way.
      Since I don’t do the translation here, you can interpret the line on your own but
      When it comes to my motivation (level),I am (still) naive/immature.
      So it somehow connects to the following line is 毎日が生まれたて I reborn every day.

      1. It is :D
        That translation does sound very correct except the character singing this is like the God of motivation ;O; I can’t see him telling others they’re naive either

        Since the sentence before it has “The world” in it, could we look at the lit translation of the word and possibly get… “If you still have a lot of excitement you haven’t seen (enough of) the world yet”?? Because in my language there’s an adjective for people translating to them ‘not having seen the world’, which means that they’re naive.

        Could this pass as a correct translation? Thanks in advance

        1. The word 世間知らず itself means “naive/lack of experiences” and it doesn’t mean “not have seen the world”. → That would be 世界を知らない. But as I said, the readers can choose the meaning.
          Though the word 世間知らず is negative, you can take it more positively and interpret as “pure” or as you said, “not have seen the world yet”, if you want. 😉

  5. Above, this example is incorrect; in your translation, you have inverted the antecedent and the result of circumstances in each clause:

    Ex. 友達と行くならハワイ、彼と行くならヨーロッパ。

    = Tomodachi to iku nara, hawai, kare to iku nara youroppa.

    = If I go to Hawaii, I prefer to go there with my friends. If it is Europe, I prefer to go there with my boyfriend.

    Here are the correct translations:

    友達と行くならハワイ。= If I go with my friend(s), I’ll/we’ll go to Hawaii.

    彼と行くならヨーロッパ。= If I go with him, I’ll/we’ll go to Europe.

  6. Hello, great article. I have a chunk of lyrics I try to understand, can you please, emphasize what role given なら has here? I know context is everything, but it is from a song. Can’t really guess, should I treat it as “if” here. Thank you so much!!!


    1. I came up with such an interpretation. Surely you can translate it better, but it’s not the case, I want to understand it as japanese do. I think なら is used as “trust” here. What do you think?

      Strongly I vowed, I won’t break this vow – I trust in this feeling, which Here I have, I think so.

      1. OK, the literal meaning of なら means “if” (If one’s mind is determined and doesn’t break off)
        but your translation is good.

  7. Sensei, sorry to bother you again. I have this question:

    Aa man tells aa woman:

    3回くしゃみをして お大事にって 言われないと 妖精になるんだ この辺の言いい伝えさ

    She answers:
    ならないわよ だってもう妖精ようせいだもの

    That ならない, does it have anything to do with なら?
    Personally I think it does not, but maybe it does. To me, when I translate it, it is as if she were saying: It cannot be helped


    1. Hello again,

      OK, you can pay attention to the previous sentence.
      妖精になるんだ the verb in the sentence is
      (〜に)なる  to be, to become
      妖精になるのです→妖精になるのだ→(casual) 妖精になるんだ to become a fairy
      the negative form of なる is ならない not become

      I’m not going to be/become a fairy (even I sneeze three times) because I’m already a fairy.

    2. 「忙しいなら断っていいよ」は「忙しければ断っていいよ」と言い換えればいいですか?よければ、ニュアンスはどう違いますか?

  8. Hi Maggie Sensei, I have a question:

    Suppose 2 people are having a conversation:

    John: 駅は次だよ
    Sam: 駅に着いたら、すぐ食べましょうね

    Can I replace 着いたら with 着いたなら, since なら is like giving suggestion?

    1. Hi Jake,
      駅に着いたら、When we get to the station
      In that case, たら is more natural because they both know that they are going to get to the station for sure.
      駅に着いたなら means “If we get to the station” and it sounds like they are not sure if they would get to the station or not.

  9. Hi Maggie-sensei,

    I’m reading a novel and came upon this sentence: “無の境地を悟ることによって、神や宇宙という非人間的な存在に、彼らが限りなく近づこうとしているのなら。”

    I was trying to find out how the “no nara’ affects the sentence. Usually nara means “if”, but I reading this lesson, I noticed that you said it is used to express trust on an ability.

    I translated this sentence as “By realising the state of nothingness, they may be able to get as close as possible to the inhuman existence of God and the universe.” Would that work? Or it’s completely incorrect?

    1. Hi でもなあ~!

      You sometimes leave a sentence unfinished and this is one of the example.
      The meaning of this なら is “If”. You might want to check the previous sentence/context.
      (Ex. What is going to happen) + If(They are trying to approac—by ) ~ 無の境地を悟ることによって、神や宇宙という非人間的な存在に、彼らが限りなく近づこうとしているのなら。

  10. I was going through “Genki” and thought there had to be more to “nara” than was being explained and…wow… I’m adding this site to my bookmarks. Thank you for the explanations

  11. Hello Maggie-sensei!
    I have a question.
    DBJG says that なら can’t be use if we can’t check the condition right now (even hypothetically). Thus they mark:
    as unacceptable because “one can never tell whether it’s true or not that it will rain tomorrow”.
    But that statement contradicts your example
    I’m confused… -_-

    1. Hello,
      Hmm? DBJG is a book?
      Anyway I can just explain my example sentence. Whether you go or not depends on your will.
      Even if you are not certain whether it rains or not, you can say
      明日雨なら as a condition (in case of rain/ If it rains)
      + what you are/not going to do.
      出かけません, etc.

      1. Yes, “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar”.
        Thank you for replying!
        That’s what I thought actually, that it has something to do with main clause, not the reason clause. I guess authors have made a mistake…
        Though one japanese person I asked said that while example sentence (from the book) sounds unnatural, he has nothing against
        So the presence/absense of a verb makes so much difference?

        1. OK, I just talked about my example sentence 明日雨なら+ what you are going to do (your will) in my previous comment and didn’t actually mentioned that example.

          I agree with your friend, “明日雨なら、試合はないです or 試合はありません。/試合は中止です” is acceptable in conversation but
          the example sentence 明日雨が降るなら試合はないでしょう。doesn’t sound natural. I guess it’s because the following sentence ないでしょう is assumption. If I think of better reason, I will let you know. :)

      2. Hello Maggie senei! How about make a subjunctive mood in Japanese, for example: If he had known your phone number yesterday, he would have called you.
        Thank you!

        1. Hello trang,
          There are a few ways but たら is more natural than なら but
          Ex. もし彼が(*あなたの)電話番号を知っていたら電話をかけてきたと思うよ。(casual)
          (* あなた: I wrote あなた here but you may want to avoid using it. Instead use the person’s name.)

          If I had known his phone number, I would have called him.
          もし彼の電話番号を知っていたら、電話をかけたのに (or 電話したのに)
          To express one’s regret, you can use のに
          (Check my のに lesson)

    1. The translation changes depending on the context.
      Let’s see what is going to happen.
      Let’s look at it.
      Let’s see.
      Let’s check it out, etc.

  12. Maggie sensei,

    Thank you for this great lesson aboutなら。
    I am a test in my textbook about nara and I have an unclear point. Could you help me this point?

    I choose both (1) and (2) but my textbook says only (1) is correct.

    I think なら can be used to make a request, and it’s OK to go with ~ください.
    But why this sentence can not be OK with nara , sensei ?

    1. Dear Frozenheart

      Right. It should be

      買うなら/買ったら both could be translated “If you buy a new camera/When you buy a new camera” but
      買うなら focusing on the time when someone buys a camera – before buying the camera
      買ったら focusing on the time when someone already bought a camera – after buying new camera
      So in order to figure out which one to use, you have to pay attention to what comes after.

      見せてください means “Show it (the new camera) to me”, so you can only show the camera after buying it (買ったら)

      If you talk to someone who is thinking about buying a camera (before buying a camera, you use 買うなら)
      (suggestion or giving a condition when someone buy a new camera)
      Ex. 新しいカメラを買うなら〇〇カメラ店で買った方がいいですよ。
      Ex. 新しいカメラを買うなら私の携帯も買って。

      1. Thanks Maggie sensei.
        Oh it’s more difficult than I thought.

        If so, may I replace this examples with たら sensei?

        (1) 答えを知っているのなら教えてよ。
        ー> 答えを知ったら教えてよ。
        =After you know the answer, tell me

        I think we can only teach someone something after we already know the answer.

        But… I also still don’t understand why なら is OK for this situation …

        Really appreciate Maggie sensei’s help.

        1. The tense is different.
          行くなら= dictionary form + なら talking about future
          Vているなら = If you are in the state,
          (1) 答えを知っているのなら教えてよ。
          If you already know the answer, let me know.
          (知っている is the state of knowing the answer.)

          is grammatically wrong. 知る is one of the irregular verbs.
          答えがわかったら教えてよ。 = If you find out what the answer is, let me know.

          As for the verb 知る, I am going to make a lesson in near future so please wait.

          1. ありがとうございました!

  13. Hi Maggie sensei,

    Again, thanks for the great lesson.

    I have learnt new thing that なら is also used for Conditional sentence “If”.
    I also remembered that I had learnt と・ば・たら also are used for Conditional Sentence . So dizzy now !

    Could you please explain the difference of conditional sentences of と・ば・たら・なら !

    1. There are so many usages of と・ば・たら・なら so I can’t explain the whole difference here but たら is the most general conditional form and you can replace と・ば・なら with たら in many cases.
      I have all the lessons so I suggest that you go through them one by one to see the difference.

  14. Great page :) whenever I need to clarify some grammar point, I end up here.

    However, I find the format of posts rather unclear. Posts get very long, and it takes a while to e.g. find specific forms or usages.

    I think it would be a good idea to hide example sentences, so that they do not show unless one clicks on them. Subtopics etc. would also be very very helpful.

    1. First thank you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate it.
      I understand your point. All of my lessons are very long with lots of example sentences.

      I am afraid I can’t have that function, hiding the example sentences, at the moment.
      There could be some plug-in but if I do have one, I am sure some people who want to read the whole lesson without clicking the each subtopic or print out the lesson would complain. It is hard to satisfy everybody.

      But if you just want to read the grammatical points, I guess there are tons of GREAT sites so please use mine just as a reference. I hope people who visit here learn Japanese through example sentences and find out the rules on their own.
      Anyway, thank you for your visit! :)

  15. Hello マギー先生、

    Under the sub-topic “past tense + なら”, for hypothetical statements, you give the example:
    – 彼のことが嫌いなら3年も付き合わないです。
    – If I didn’t like him, I wouldn’t have gone out with him for three years.

    The condition is present tense.
    My guess would have been this meant:
    – If I don’t like him, I wont go out with him for three years.

    So my question(s); is this a typo or do な adjectives follow a different pattern? And why is the second halve of the sentence in present tense? The action is (and would have been) completed already.

    Thank you!

    1. 彼のことが嫌いなら3年も付き合わないです。
      From this sentence, we can assume she has actually gone out with him for three years.
      To be make it more clear, you can rephrase it as

      1. I’m sorry, I kind of get why the second part would be present tense, but I still don’t understand why the hypothetical condition is not in the past tense here. The other two examples you give are past tense
        – もし父がここにいたなら…
        – もしも祖父が生きていたなら…
        Why is this one different?

        1. Hi Jay,
          Sorry for the late reply. Just found your message.
          Ahhhh, now I see your confusion. My mistake. That sentence was under “the verb + past tense” place.
          Sorry to make you confused.

          1. I see you removed the example, but of course I’m still wondering about it :D
            The guy isn’t 嫌い, so could you still phrase this as 「嫌いなら。。。ない」?

            What about
            This would have been my first guess.
            Is it okay to insert だった after nouns and なadjectives in cases like this?

            Also (perhaps a bit off-topic), coming back to the second halve being present tense; does it imply they are still going out?
            What if they are no longer together?
            Something like 「嫌いだったなら付き合わなかった」 perhaps?

            Thanks again!

          2. @天人

            Thank you for your helping as always!


            嫌い/好き are verbs in English translation so I had that example sentence there without thinking too much.
            I shouldn’t have given you the example with other verbs and also it is a bit conversational.

            Just for your reference. (I wouldn’t go any further.)

            Ex. 彼のことが嫌いなら(ば)3年も付き合わないです。
            = If I didn’t like him, I wouldn’t have gone out with him for three years.

            It could mean either “they are still dating.” or “talking about their past but focusing on the reason”

            past tense 〜だった + (の)+ なら expresses one’s stronger feelings or is used in more dramatic cases.
            For these particular sentences, 嫌いだった doesn’t sound natural. Maybe it is because of the context or the second sentence could still mean the present.

            For example,
            works. (If you hated him that much, you should have broken up with him.)

            Now let’s change 嫌い to 好き
            1) 彼が好きならそう言えばいいのに。(S1 & S2 current situation)
            If you like him so much, you should say so.
            2) 彼が好きならそう言えばよかったのに。(S1 could be present or past/ S2 is past)
            If you like/liked him so much, you should have said so.
            3) X(not natural) 彼が好きだったならそう言えばよかったのに

            Anyway, if you want to express clearly, present or past, たら is better.

          3. Hello Jay,
            「なら」 cannot appear after a past tense. Therefore ~た+なら is grammatically wrong.
            The most natural way to describe a past condition, whose result influences the present, is: ~たら… ~ない(だろう)/~てない(だろう) or ~なら…~ない(だろう)/~ていない(だろう).
            Using なら sounds more like: “if it is the case that…”, than just a simply “if”. Also, ~たら has less restrictions, than なら.


          4. (Somehow I can’t reply to your later answers, no button, so I’ll just reply to this earlier post.)

            Thank you both for your answers.
            I haven’t yet read up on たら. That lesson is currently waiting in my other tab for me to read it :)

            But before I do that, just to check I’ve got this right;
            when you’re making a counterfactual/hypothetical statement with なら and are not using a verb, you can just trust the context to make this clear?

            If it wasn’t tasty (it was) I wouldn’t have eaten it.
            If I liked him (I don’t) I would say so.
            Or, theoretically: If I like him I will say so. (Which doesn’t make much sense.)

            Thanks again for your help.
            I’m off learning about たら.

          5. おいしくないなら食べなかった alone doesn’t sound natural. For example if you add こんなに the person is eating something right now and shows his/her regret. If you change it to あんなに then we know the person is recalling the taste so we can tell it is something that happened in past.

            I wouldn’t have eaten it if I were this/that bad.

            なら emphasizes what comes before.

            *こんな・あんなに美味しくないんだったら食べなかった is more common

            If I liked him (I don’t) I would say so.
            It could be the person hasn’t had the feelings for him yet but thinking about the possibility.
            If I like him, I will say so.

            (You can also say→彼が好きだったら言う)

            So it all depends on the context.

          6. Ah, yes of course, なら stresses what comes before. I should have kept that in mind.

            Thank you for help.
            I’ve got a feeling we will meet again in the たら comment section :D

  16. Hello Maggie Sensei,

    So I was trying to translate this song (full lyrics here: and the first couple of lines didn’t make much sense to me. There seem to be a lot of inferred particles or something, because there seem to be a bunch of unrelated sentence fragments. In any case, the use ofなら confused me as well. It doesn’t seem to be any of the ones you wrote about on this page, which all still seem to have a sense of “if.”

    触媒(カタリスト) Ocean of foliage

    産み落ちた過ち故 佇む静寂なら縛り付け


    “A catalyst (from) an ocean of foliage; because it was an error that I was born, in the still silence, a cross of sin is tied to me.” is what I could get from it.

    I thought, perhaps, it was more for emphasizing topics: “Concerning the still silence,” which is where I got “in” from (since usually if you’re talking about silence, you’re talking doing something in silence). But I don’t know if that’s correct, since, if what I have is correct, ならwouldn’t be marking a topic.

    Basically, what I’m asking is, how would you translate なら in this context?

    Thank you!

    1. (sorry if I posted this already); I noticed that my comment had disappeared, so I thought it was a technical glitch, but just now I notice the “awaiting moderation” thing at the top. So sorry if this is a repeat!)

    2. Holly

      Sorry, I can’t help you the lyrics here.
      As I explained in the lesson, なら is usually conditional, “if ~ / in case ~ “or “If you are talking about ~, it’s ~ “(emphasis) but it just doesn’t fit in the lyrics.

        1. Poem and lyrics are hard to translated because you have to interpret the writer’s intention in the first place.
          It could be if the person is just standing still (without accepting his sin or making any excuses), he will be crucified.

          1. Oh, okay. I took 佇む as just modifying 静寂, but if you take it also as an action of the speaker like that, then it makes more sense.

            Could you please help me with another question on the same song? It has, I think, some inferred particles, and I’m not sure what to connect and what not to connect. (You’re definitely right about songs! Translating them is very confusing (^^ゞ )
            罪に塗れる 封印されし刃金の魔剣
            今粉の砂炭 蘇る刻が来り

            “Smeared with sin, the magic blade of pressed steel is now the particles of Satan (possibly ash? 砂炭 is just phonetic; you probably assumed that but it took me a while to figure out so I thought I’d put it in (^~^)). The time for rebirth has come. ”

            That’s how I translated it, but I’m not sure if 今粉の砂炭 goes with the above line, especially since I assumed both a particle and the main verb for my translation. Is it okay if I do that, or is that wrong?

            Sorry to bother you again, and thanks for helping!

          2. (p.s. There was a space between 今粉の砂炭and 蘇る刻が来:
            今粉の砂炭 蘇る刻が来り. Don’t how much that matters, but somehow it got deleted! Oops.)

  17. I have a quick question, if we wanna use _ない then なら, is it possible?
    For example: 先生じゃないなら、。。。 or 美味しくないなら、。。。

    1. @Tenshi Himawari

      Yes, you can say 先生じゃないなら・美味しくないなら
      negative form 〜ない+なら


  18. Dear Maggie Sensei,

    Your post was great as always! ^^
    I have only one question: can I use volitional form (-tai) before -nara?
    For example I would like to say to a friend: “if you want to see a good movie, you should watch this.”
    Is it okay to say: “何か楽しい映画を見たいなら、この映画を見たほうがいいと思います” ?

    Thank you in advance! ^^


    1. @Berry

      Hi Berry,
      Yes, you can say 楽しい映画を見たいなら〜

      Ex. 試験に合格したいならもっと勉強した方がいい。If you want to pass the exam, you should study more.
      Ex. やせたいなら間食をやめなさい。If you want to lose weight, stop eating snack.

      1. すごく早いお返事ありがとうございます!  !niconico! 
        And your example sentences are great, too, now I could learn the word “snack” in Japanese! And its kanji combination makes a lot of sense! ^^
        I’ll keep learning, thanks a lot! :mm: :purple: :w:

  19. !Anapple! !Anapple! thank you! because no other site or book explained the use of ‘nara’ at the start of a sentence

  20. マギー先生は すごいし, 優しいしです。

    I like to practice reading and listening to anime songs, and when I was “studying” a son called pray from the anime Gintama I found this.
    責める雨の音 悲しくなるなら
    I think it means something like
    “If the sound of the blamed rain becomes sad, it will become the shield of the gentle you”
    but in other sites I found a translation like this one
    “Condemn the sound of the rain, if you become sad, it will become your shield of kindness”
    And I couldn’t fully understand, if it is possible to use なら in the second sentence and that the first sentence become the consequence like in this song example?
    責める雨の音 悲しくなるなら (blame the rain if it becomes sad or )
    優しい君の盾になる (If it becomes sad it will become your shield)
    or neither is correct? xp.

    And of course thank you for all your effort and this amazing lesson it helped me a lot.
    Eres la mejor マギー。

    1. @puercopigsk8


      OK, I won’t do the translation here but will try to help you to understand the structure.
      The basic idea is
      = If you feel sad, I will be a shield for you.

      責める雨の音 is in the same

      So the direct translation is not natural but here is the whole structure
      If you feel sad (with the sounds of the aggressive rain) , I will protect you (, my sweet girl), becoming a shield for you.

      1. なるほど
        I’ve been studying japanese for 1 year so it still confuses me a lot when subjects like 僕 or 君 are missing in the sentence, and when I saw this sentence rewriten,
        I realized, that I was just making up wrong grammar constructions,
        まだまだ 頑張らなければなりません。


        1. @puercopigsk8

          I know we often skip the subjects. Usually we can tell by the context but lyrics are harder.

  21. 隠れているタイポなら俺は必ず捕まえるよ。 :maggie-small:

    “Konnsaato ga hachiji kara nara maniaun dakedo.” :rrrr: “konsaato”

    Thank you for this lesson, it’s another piece of the puzzle regarding conditional sentences. I’ve been trying to fully understand them for a year now, they remain quite difficult.

    To summarize your lesson and what I already knew, I understand that なら often stands after nouns and pronouns, and since its the short form of ならば and can be replaced with (の)だたら, in this function it’s basically not very different from -ba and -tara conditionals.
    The second and main function are time-reversed conditionals, which means, when the contitional part follows the conclusion in time or both happen at the same time, which is often the case in suggestions, advices, decisions etc. You cannot use to, -ba and -tara conditionals in this case as they require the condition to happen before the conclusion. Therefore, the nara-conditional is mostly used for imperativ clauses.

    So now that I know when I have to use nara and when I can optionally can use it, I’m having difficulties to understand when I absolutely cannot use it. For example, I found these sentences, of which my grammar says, you cannot use the nara conditional for them:
    1. これをなくしたら大変です。
    2. 私が行けばあなたも行きますか。
    But “あなたが行くなら私も行きます。” works fine. So what are the restrictions for using nara. Does it have something to do with the subject in the sentence or can’t you use it in questions? :-? :-?

    1. Hello Zetsuboumanadeshi,
      the key is to understand how ~たら works.
      If you look close, you will find out, that it’s combined with 過去の助動詞「た」+仮定を表す助動詞「ら」.

      Now the conclusion.

      ~た implies that the action is already completed (has been done already).
      ~ら implies a conditional statement, a supposition that if something occurs, then something else will happen (仮定の条件 => if).


      If we lose this, we gonna have troubles. ==> ~たら implies what is going to happen, when something is lost.

      Since you lose this, you gonna have trouble ==> Sounds strange, isn’t it? So, なくするなら implies that the speaker has a will to lose something. Something is not lost, yet, but it will be lost.

      私が行けばあなたも行きます。 ==> ~ば indicates a conditional statement “supposing A is going to happen”. The usage of this pattern is more restricted then なら or ~たら. For example you cannot use ~ば implying speakers volition, requests if ~ば doesn’t combine with a verb of state(状態性の動詞).

      EX それについて何か分からなければ、私に遠慮なく聞いてください。 ○
      EX 風邪を引けば、外に出ないでください。 X
      EX 熱が出れば、この薬を飲んでくださいね。 X

      あなたが行くなら私も行きます ==> なら indicates also conditional statement “since A is going to happen”. Someone shows a will to go somewhere (あなたが行くなら) and the result is, that the speaker is also going somewhere(私も行きます).


      1. @Zetsuboumanadeshi

        Thank you for spotting the typo.
        Well, looks like you have a GREAT senpai here for you!


        Thank you for helping Zetsuboumanadeshi’s question.
        You are always helping people here. That is just so nice of you! ありがとう!

        1. It’s always my pleasure!

          One more thing about “2. 私が行けばあなたも行きますか。”
          In fact, I didn’t notice the か particle hidden there… sometimes my mind makes auto corrections or auto semi-corrections.
          ~ば is a pure condition-consequence case, therefore you cannot use it in a interrogative sentences.
          In other words, by using ~ば you just state a clear cause and effect relationship.

          私が行けばあなたも行きますか。==> 私が行ったらあなたも行きますか。 or 私が行くならあなたも行くわよね or 私が行くならあなたも行くべきかと。

          1. Thank you sempai 天人 for your answers. It helps a lot, even though I think you are not totally right and we still have to rely on Maggie Senseis judgement, as it’s really difficult for a nonnative speaker.

            Concerning the first sentence “これをなくしたら大変です。”, I understand that nara is more a factual conditional than a time conditional, like “if that is the case…; if we assume that…”, so you don’t use it for time related conditions, right? However, you can say “雨なら行きません。” or “雨がふるなら行きません。”(?? don’t know about that one). The focus may not on the time it starts raining, but on the decision, not to go. Nevertheless, the condition can have a time related fact in the future, that may or may not come true. But thats also the case in my sentence: “If (I, you) loose it…” I can’t see any structural difference between the conditions, so if I would say: “If I loose this, I won’t go!” it probably could be the nara conditional?

            If so, the reason why you can’t use nara in that sentence may rather be the conclusion “…I/you will be in trouble.” But I don’t understand why. Let me quote my grammar on the nara conditional:

            “In other words, S1 is an assumption that is based on something/somebody other than the speaker, and S2 is the speaker’s evaluation or judgement based on that assumption.”

            Well, S1 “I I/you/we loose it” is a assumption not necessarily based on the speaker, and S2 “I/you/we will be in trouble” is an evaluation and judgement based on that assumption. So I don’t understand why I can’t use nara in this case.

            Concerning Sentence 2 “私が行けばあなたも行きますか。” That is in fact a correct sentence according to my grammar. So you actually can use the -ba conditional in questions. But you can’t use nara here, and I don’t know why. If you are right and the same sentence formed into a statement” 私が行くならあなたも行くわよね” is correct, it would mean that it nara won’t work with questions. But I’ve never read that anywhere, so again we need Maggie Sensei to help us.

            Magiiiiie, I know that this is pretty dry stuff, but we need your expertise here. Those damn grammarbooks just won’t do it…

          2. @天人

            Thank you for your help as always!!


            Sorry I have been really busy making new lessons. I will have more time on the weekend. But I think 天人先輩 explained to you really well.
            He is better than me. :)

          3. Well, I have to correct myself.
            “私が行けばあなたも行きますか。” ==> I haven’t seen ~ば used in such kind of sentences. However the sentence is… correct.

            As for interrogative sentences, ~ば appears very oft when the speaker asks for directions:

            or in questions like:

            Another important thing is that ~ば appears in sentences with a good result.
            In “これをなくするなら大変です。” the result would be bad.

            I found something interesting for you. ==> tip: ” 「~と、~たら、~ば、~なら」の使い分けについて ” and go on the first result. The web-page should be “….” There’s a .doc file that explains everything very well.


          4. @天人



            Sorry for the late reply.

            Since 天人さん already explained and gave you a great link, what I can do here is to show you a little pattern.

            S1: action/when something happens →S2 : expected consequence (what is going to happen)

            EX1) これをなくしたら (S1) 大変です( S2)。

            Ex.2) このボタンを押したら (S1) 音楽がなります( S2)。

            Ex.3) 私が呼んだら (S1) すぐに来てね ( S2)。

            Ex. 4) 雨が降ったら (S1) 道が混む (S2)。

            Ex. 5) 彼が来たら (S1) 一緒に行きましょう (S2)。
            (This たら is not “if”/ When (or Once) he comes, let’s go out together.)

            You can’t use なら in these patterns.


            Now, let’s see the other pattern.

            *1) 私が行けば (S1) あなたも行きますか (S2)?
            *2) 私が行ったら (S1) あなたも行きますか (S2)?

            The question is if we say
            3) 私が行くなら(S1)あなたも行きますか (S2)?
            or not.

            They all means “If I go..” in English but while 1) and 2) gives a condition with ば and たら, なら has a nuance of assumption. Therefore it is not natural to assume your own action, 私が行く.

            As you said, if the subject is someone else, you can use なら
            *4) あなたが行くなら(S1) 私も行きます(S2)。

          5. @ 天人

            Thank you very much again for your help. Also for clearing up the -ba conditional, so I needn’t bother Maggie Sensei too much when she puts out a lesson on that. :) I’ve downloaded the document, it will take me some time to translate though as I’m only 2 years and ~600 kanji into Japanese and therefore am still lacking significant kanji- and vocabularyknowledge to read original texts. But it will be a good practice.

            @ :maggie-small:

            Thank you so much, your example sentences and explanations totally nailed it. Thanks to your combined efforts I think I really understand now and my main problems regarding the conditionals are finally solved. I’m so happy, I could bite you… !niconico!  !DANCING!

  22. こにちわ… boucingheart! マギ せんせい :wink: :wink:
    How to use mono and dake in sentences???
    tasukete sensei !JYANE! !JYANE!

    1. @Fahmi san

      こんにちは、Fahmi san
      You mean how to use ものだけ(=mono dake) ?
      Or you want to know how to use “もの” and how to use “だけ” separately?

  23. Hi Sensei,
    Your lesson really make my learning become more interesting..
    Sensei, can you explain Rentaikei + と・・・言う ? I can’t really understand the usage of this..

    wen hao

    1. @WenHao

      Hello, WenHao!
      (There is a space between と and 言う so if I am wrong, let me know.)

      When you modify a noun, you use this pattern.

      Ex. 彼を疑うという気持ち
      = Kare wo utagau toiu kimochi
      The feelings that I doubt him.
      ((彼を)疑う modifies 気持ち)

      Ex. 毎日、1時間、散歩をするという習慣。
      = Mainichi, ichijikan, sanpo wo suru toiu shuukan.
      = The custom that I walk one hour everyday.
      ((毎日、1時間)散歩する modifies 習慣)

      1. Hi Sensei,

        thank you for the explanation.
        At the same time, I’m looking forward on your upcoming article on は and が

        wen hao

        1. @WenHao

          You’re welcome.
          The lesson on は and が is already on the request list. Since it is a complicated theme, it will take a long time to make it but please wait patiently.

  24. どうも有り難う マギー先生  !happyface! !happyface! 間違いありませんですた「no error found」

  25. Oh, thanks for this lesson!

    I have one question.

    Ex. もし冬に日本に行くなら、コートを持っていった方がいいよ。

    = If you are going to Japan in winter, you should take a coat with you.

    Note: You can’t replace 行くなら ( = ikunara) with 行ったら ( = ittara) here.

    Why 行ったら can’t be used here? Is it because it would change the meaning? I was thought that verbs ending with “tara” are conditional, so I don’t see the difference clearly here.

    And in this case b) マギーが出かけたら私も行きます。 you said it means going out after Maggie leaves, so could I replace it with “出かけたあとで” ?

    Thanks again for this lesson!

    1. @reid

      Hi reid! 元気だった?

      “If you are going to Japan in winter, you should take a coat with you.

      As I said you can replace 行くなら with 行くのだったら/ 行くんだったら

      行ったら won’t work with this type of suggestion.
      It sounds like this.

      When you go to Japan in winter/ When you get to Japan in winter, you should take a coat with you.

      The suggestion of taking a coat should be given before the listener goes to Japan.
      日本に行ったら: When the listener gets to Japan or is already in Japan. So the suggestion should be something they can do when they get to Japan.

      1. Oh so that would imply that the person is already certain of going to Japan or that the person is already on the way to Japan?

        Thanks for the answer!

        1. Hi Maggie-sensei!
          I still have doubts about this case.
          I clearly understand why you can’t use 行ったら without もし here.
          But we have もし in the beginning, and もし + condition + たら is “if” construction so it can be translated the same as with 行くなら except there would be no emphasis on winter or am wrong here?
          Or もし here only makes condition less certain?

          1. Ahh I should have explained better.
            You can’t use たら there because of the following sentence
            持っていった方がいい is something you do before the trip.

            You can say もし行ったら but the following sentence should be something you do when you get to Japan.

            = If you go to Japan, buy me some gift.

          2. Now I get it, thank you Maggie!
            And for all useful lessons!

            By the way, I noticed that comments in long answer chains have not “reply” button starting from 5th answer.

          3. You’re very welcome, GrumpyCat.

            I guess the current comments plug-in doesn’t allow you to have a long conversation. If that happens to you, just post as a new comment. I read all the comments anyway. :)

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