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ば (ba) Meaning Japanese Grammar - If

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'ば (ba) Meaning Japanese Grammar - If'

Anna Baffa Volpe

ば (ba) Meaning Japanese Grammar - If

The suffix ば (ba) is used in Japanese to form the conditional and the hypothetical sentence, which in many languages is introduced by the conjunction if.

varies its form depending on whether it is used with a verb, noun or adjective.

In this post we learn more about the meaning of ば, how it is formed, when ば is used and how it is modified according to the grammatical element to which it is joined.

How and when ば is used

The hypothetical sentence in Japanese is translated in various ways.

Let's see in this post:

The structure follows the order:

  • the hypothetical sentence A introduced by the conjunction if and
  • the sentence B, a direct consequence of A

If A happens , B occurs.

その(だい)(がく)()れば、いい(かい)(しゃ)(はい)れる。

If you graduate from that university, you can get into a good company.

How ば is formed

and れば as we anticipated, are suffixes joined to the verb base.

Ichidan Verb without る+れば

Example with the Ichidan Verb: 決める decide

決める
決め
決め
決めれば

()めればすべてうまくいく。

If you decide, everything will be fine.

Godan Verb in its Base ending in え+

Example with the Godan Verb: ()push, whose Base in え or B4 is ()

押す
せば

このボタンを()せば、(つめ)たい(みず)()ます。

If you press this button, cold water comes out.

We have translated the sentence literally to emphasise the hypothetical if but it can be translated:

⇨ Press this button and hot water will come out.

Irregular verbs:

  • する do becomes すれば
  • ()come becomes ()れば

(まい)(にち)(れん)(しゅう)すれば、日本(にほん)()(じょう)()になります。

If you practice every day, your Japanese will improve.

い Adjective without い+ければ

(あつ)い is an い Adjective and means hot, warm

(あつ)い means hot referring to the weather conditions and opposite to (さむ)cold; 熱い with the same pronunciation means instead hot to the touch whose antonym is (つめ)たい cold, freezing

暑い
ければ

()()(あつ)ければ、(まど)()けてください。

If the room is hot, open the window.

な Adjective without な+なら o ならば

()()な is a な Adjective meaning impossible, unreasonable

無理な
無理
無理
無理ならば

()()ならば(だい)(じょう)()です。

If you can't, it's okay.

Noun+なら o ならば

ソフトドリンク refers to all the non-alcoholic drinks

ソフトドリンク
ソフトドリンクなら

ソフトドリンクなら()のみますが、ビールなら()めません。

I can drink soft drinks, but not beer.

Literally the sentence means: If it is non-alcoholic I will drink it, but if it is beer I cannot drink it.

The verb ()む in the first part is in the polite form in ます I drink; the second one is a potential form in the negative I cannot drink.

Negative forms

The hypothetical structure in the negative form:

  • with the verbs the suffix なければ is attached to the negative verb base or B1.

The negative base or B1 for Ichidan verbs is obtained by removing the syllable る and for Godan verbs by replacing the last syllabe with the kana ending in あ.

()る: need, want

要る
らなければ

いらなければ、(だれ)かにあげてください。

If you don't need it, give it to someone else.

  • the い Adjectives use the adverbial form ending in く + なければ
難しい
難し
難し
難しくなければ

(むづか)しくなければやってみたい。

If it's not difficult, I'd like to try it.

We find in the main sentence the use of てみる, the て form of the verb + みる which translates trying to do something.

  • Nouns and な Adjectives are followed by でなければ; let's remember to remove the kana な from the adjective

(めい)(わく)な refers to something that causes annoyance, disturb or trouble

(めい)(わく)でなければ、お(ねが)いしたいのですが。

If it is not too much trouble, I'd like to ask you a favor.

Examples of ば

チャンスがあれば、アラスカに()ってみたいです。

If I have a chance, I would like to visit Alaska.

もっとお(かね)があれば、この()(けい)()えるのに。

If I had more money, I could buy this watch.

A

どこに()けば、その(ふく)()えますか?

Where can I buy that cloth?

B

(しぶ)()()けば、()えますよ。

You can buy it in Shibuya.

Where should I go to buy that cloth?

If you go to Shibuya, you can buy it.

(あめ)()らなければ、()かけます。

If it does not rain, I will go out.