484 - ~たら (if)

One of the big challenges of N4 grammar is dealing with conditional sentences.

Even after passing N1 almost three years ago, conditionals still mess with my head a bit.

But I think that's mostly because books and classes confused me so much. Maybe in these lessons we can do a bit better (I hope!). We'll start by taking our conditionals one at a time...


JLPT N4: ~たら (if)

~たら is a verb suffix that is used to make an "if...then" statement in Japanese.

That is, when you want to say, "if something happens, then something else will happen," then you can use ~たら.

Here is an example:

面倒くさかったら、来なくてもいいですよ。
めんどくさかったら、 こなくても いい です よ。
If it’s a hassle, you don’t need to come.
Literally: “if (it’s) bothersome, + even if (you) don’t come + good + です + よ.”

First we have the i-adjective 面倒くさい (めんどうくさい・めんどくさい// bothersome; tiresome; a hassle).

Since we want to say "if it's a hassle," we'll use ~たら.

But how do we attach ~たら to an i-adjective?!

When I learned it, I remembered it this way:

1) Put the i-adjective into past tense. So 面倒くさい → 面倒くさかった.

2) Add ~ら. So 面倒くさかった → 面倒くさかったら.

Another way to remember it would be to (1) drop い and (2) add かったら:

面倒くさい → 面倒くさ- → 面倒くさかったら

Anyway, 面倒くさかったら means "if (s.t.) is a hassle, then..."

Here's the example sentence one more time:

面倒くさかったら、来なくてもいいですよ。
めんどくさかったら、 こなくても いい です よ。
If it’s a hassle, you don’t need to come.
Literally: “if (it’s) bothersome, + even if (you) don’t come + good + です + よ.”

By the way, throughout the above explanation, I imagine that some of you were repeatedly scrolling up to remind yourself of what the reading is for 面倒くさい (めんどうくさい・めんどくさい). That's a good thing, because it means you're training to your brain to recognize the kanji and not just relying on your hiragana crutches the whole time.


So does ~たら only attach to i-adjectives?

No! How boring would that be?

We can do...

V た + ら

i-adjective かったら

NOUN (or na-adjective) + だったら

Here we have a verb, an i-adjective, and a noun [which is also a na-adjective]:

ある(to be; to have
痛い(いたい // painful; hurting
不安(ふあん // anxiety [anxious]; uneasiness [uneasy]

We already saw how to use ~たら with i-adjectives:

痛い → かったら
いたい → いたかったら
painful → if (it's) painful

Nouns and na-adjectives are easy, too, because we just add だったら:

不安 → 不安だったら
ふあん → ふあん だったら
uneasy; anxious → if (you're feeling) uneasy / anxious / worried

For verbs, put them into simple past tense, then add ら to the end:

ある → あった → あった
there is / have → there was / had → if there was / if (one) had

Note that I'm hesitant to write "V た + ら," since technically we should just be writing "V たら." (At least, that's what all the books do, as あったら, for example, is a single word.) If you've been keeping up with these lessons, then surely you know this by now, but the use of colors and bold text are to serve as conjugation clues and usage guidelines--they have no effect on, for example, the intonation of a phrase. In other words, don't judge my highlights and bold text, please!


Now, if you can just make it through five example sentences, you'll be finished with this lesson.

Ready? Here we go...

もし、ベトナムに行く機会があった、ぜひニャチャンに行ってみてください。
もし、 ベトナム に いく きかい が あったら、 ぜひ ニャチャン に いって みて ください。
If you ever get the chance to go to Vietnam, please be sure to go to Nha Trang.
Literally: “if, + Vietnam + に + go + chance / opportunity + が + if there was, + certainly / without fail + Nha Trang + に + go (and) + see (and) + please.”

You don't have to worry too much about what can come after ~たら in a sentence. Typically, though, the second half of our sentence will be a suggestion or a volitional action (i.e. an action under the speaker's control).

In this example, ~たら is being followed by a suggestion, "please be sure to go to Nha Trang."


かったら、左手をあげてください。
いたかったら、 ひだりて を あげて ください。
If it starts hurting, please raise your left hand.
Literally: “if (it) hurt, + left hand + を + raise (and) + please.”
Note: For example, a dentist might say this.


Another suggestion / instruction following ~たら!


In the following example, we don't have a suggestion. Rather we have the speaker saying something that she will do if the conditions in our ~たら clause are met:

一人で行くのが不安だったら、一緒に行ってあげますよ。
ひとりで いく の が ふあん だったら、 いっしょ に いって あげます よ。
If you’re worried about going by yourself, I'll go with you.
Literally: “by yourself + go + のが + uneasy + if (you) are, + together + に + go (and) + give (you) + よ.”


Like in the last example, here's another sentence where the second half is an action that is under the speaker's control (i.e. a volitional action):

もし、また怪しい電話がかかってきた、警察に通報してやろう。
もし、 また あやしい でんわ が かかって きたら、 けいさつ に つうほう して やろう。
If I get another one of those suspicious phone calls, I’ll report it to the police.
Literally: “if, + again + suspicious + phone (call) + が + get a call (and) + if (it) comes, + police + に + report / notification + do (and) + let’s do.”


Last but not least, we have an example where the second half of the sentence straddles the line between "suggestion" and "volitional action," as the speaker is saying "let's..."

もし、そこが満席だったら、隣の居酒屋に行きましょう。
もし、 そこ が まんせき だったら、 となり の いざかや に いきましょう。
If that place is full, let’s go to the izakaya next door.
Literally: “if, + there + が + fully occupied + if (it) is, + next door + の + izakaya + に + let’s go.”


The end!

Study this lesson like a mad person. Or suffer the consequences: Not being able to use one of the most useful JLPT grammar points.




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