ば - Grammar Discussion

if… then


  • Verb[ ]
    食べる → 食べ れば ・食べ なければ
    飲む → 飲 めば ・飲ま なければ
    する → す れば ・し なければ
    行く → 行 けば ・行か なければ
    である → であ れば ・では なければ

  • い-Adjective → れば ・く なければ

:warning: Hypothetical

[Unlike たら, ば doesn’t have a time related meaning “when/then”]

View on Bunpro

1 Like

Why is this not displayed as (Passive) or なければ? It would make it so much easier to understand with the title.

1 Like

Hey :blush:

You have a good eye, ば form is similar to potential form (not passive). But there are some differences.

type of verb dictionary form potential form ば form
V(る1) られる /!見 れる 見れば
V(る5) れる れば
V(う) える えば
V(く) ける けば
V(す) せる せば
V(つ) てる てば
V(ぬ) ねる ねば
V(ぶ) べる べば
V(む) める めば
V(ぐ) げる げば
- する できる (kind of) すれば
- くる こられる くれば

The difference is visible mostly in ichidan (though using れる instead of られる is getting more often in casual speech) and irregular verbs conjugation

type of verb dictionary form potential negative form negative ば form
V(る1) られない /!見 れない 見なければ
V(る5) れない 座ら なければ
V(う) えない 歌わ なければ
V(く) けない 歩か なければ
V(す) せない 話さ なければ
V(つ) てない 打た なければ
V(ぬ) ねない 死な なければ
V(ぶ) べない 飛ば なければ
V(む) めない 休ま なければ
V(ぐ) げない 泳が なければ
- する できない (kind of) しなければ
- くる こられない こなければ

Negative forms are also different.
So we couldn’t write it in easier way, but I think it might be a good idea to point that similarity somewhere!

I hope it helps,

1 Like

I have a question about one of the sentences:

今週の金曜日までにできなければ 、来週末に終わらせなくてはいけない
If you cannot do it by this Friday, then you have to finish it next weekend.

What nuance does 終わらせ being causative add to the ~なくてはいけない combination? Doesn’t ~なくてはいけない already mean “you have to” with ‘normal’ verbs? So why would one make the preceding verb causative?


Bump? I was wondering the same thing!


Hey and sorry for the slow answer :bowing_man:

It comes to the fact that 終わる is an intransitive verb meaning “to come to an end” (it can be translated as “to end”, “to finish” but it is intransitive verb, “to come to an end” captures it better).
If you cannot do it by this Friday, then come to an end it next weekend. Doesn’t sound natural.
終える is a transitive one meaning “to finish”.
You want something along:
If you cannot do it by this Friday, then finish it next weekend.
今週の金曜日までにできなければ 、来週末に 終えなくてはいけない

Since the causative form is used when someone “causes” something to happen, therefore verb in causative form becomes transitive.

So we can use the causative form on intransitive verb making it transitive. Also, it has a stronger nuance of intention/purpose than an ordinary transitive counterpart.

So 終わらせる means something along “make it end”, “to terminate”.

Basically that is all, making an intransitive verb into transitive + adding some emphasis, some people simply treat is a synonym of 終える.

I hope it helps,


Thanks for the explanation. I think our confusion stems from the fact that it sounds even weirder that way in English. If your teacher said “Everyone make your homework finish this weekend”, everyone would look at each other blankly! I guess a literal translation just doesn’t quite cut it in this case.

There is now a Japanese Ammo video for this:

1 Like

@Ambo100 Thank you for letting us know! I have updated the readings to include this video. Cheers!

Got to join this thread again, too.
So, I’m looking at
天気(てんき)予報(よほう)を みれば 、明日(あした)の天気が分(わ)かるだろう。
and its help text, which says ‘lit. “if the weather forecast gets looked at”’.
I’m a little confused because, if this isn’t the passive form, but rather the conditional, then it literally reads “If [context-dependent person] sees the weather forecast”, which is a lot more fitting with the meaning.
So my question is, is it passive or not?

Another question, if anyone has the answer: What is this word である that comes up in the following sentence?
The only thing I can find for である is ‘to run into’/‘to meet unintentionally’, which doesn’t seem to be what’s used here.

1 Like

である is one form of the copula.

であう is to meet by chance.

1 Like


This is meaning that we were shooting for. The sentence is not meant to be taken passively. I have updated the sentence to exclude the specific “you.”

As @nekoyama mentioned, である is a form of the copula, primarily used in formal writing. でない is just a contracted form of ではない with little to no change in meaning/nuance.

1 Like

Thanks, I should have noticed that it wasn’t であう - damn you, Google Translate!

Edit: Not actually Google’s fault this time, I obviously just mixed them up…

1 Like

Hi, I have a question.
Bunpro says the following:

[な]Adjective + なら(ば)
Noun + なら(ば)

But those are forms for the なら conditional.
Both Tae Kim and Wasabi (first 2 readings for this grammar point) say the following:

For nouns and na-adjectives: Attach 「であれば」

No examples for this grammar point show non-negative nouns or na-adjectives.
The negative form is correctly written: で + なければ, and since ある and ない are the same verb, I cannot figure this one out.
Is this a mistake?

なら(ば) vs であれば

They can both be used, but であれば is more formal as it comes from である whereas なら(ば) comes from だ.

ば attaches to the 仮定形 (hypothetical form) of a word.

Nouns don’t have a 仮定形 so you need to use either or である (You can’t use です since it doesn’t have a 仮定形). The 仮定形 of だ is なら. The 仮定形 of ある is あれ so である will become であれ.

The 仮定形 of a な adjectives just has you attach なら to it, but you can also use である like we did for nouns.

There is a whole grammar point dedicated to なら if you need some example sentences.

ある and ない are not the same verb. In fact this ない is not even a verb, but an い adjective.

They can both be used

Is there not a difference in meaning between the ば and なら conditionals? Are they interchangable for nouns and na-adjectives? Does this not confuse the meaning?

There is a whole grammar point dedicated to なら if you need some example sentences.

I need example sentences for that use nouns and na-adjectives in a positive meaning so I can understand the difference between ば and なら conditionals.

なら in just a shortened version of ならば.

Yes, they are the same. But when you see なら being used after a verb or い adjective technically those are being nominalized (they are turned into nouns). If you go to the page for the なら grammar point you can see the の (which can be ommited) that nominalizes them.

Just imagine there is a ば after all of those なら then.

なら in just a shortened version of ならば.

How do you differentiate the meaning then? All the sources for the conditional grammar points separate them into different groups of conditionals w/ different meaning (hypothetical vs. contextual).
If I wanted to say: If I were a plane… → 私が飛行機ならば…
But that translates to “Since I’m a plane…”, not “If I were”.

Wasabi says なら is not applicable for hypothetical conditions. So that’s what’s confusing me right now.

They mean the same thing (though ならば is more formal since it’s longer / you aren’t omitting something).

That’s just how they decide to teach it. The contextual meaning comes from always using the hypothetical form of だ instead of any other word. Technically, you could skip teaching たら and なら since they come from たらば and ならば, but it doesn’t hurt to take a closer look at the differences between using them. For example you can take a more top down approach and just look at the differences between 食べれば, 食べたら, and 食べなら without having to care about what auxiliary verbs things are coming from.

私が飛行機なら飛べる can be translated to “If I were a plane I could fly.”

Since なら is the hypothetical of だ the statement kind of exists independent from time. For the hypothetical conditions that wasabi is talking about it happens temporally. If X happens at time Y then Z should happen.

1 Like