How to Use the Japanese Conditional Form たら (Tara)

The たら (tara) form is often used in Japanese, and it can be a valuable tool if you are familiar with its meanings and uses. There are several of them, and we’ll break them all down in this article to help make this grammar point clear and natural for you to understand.

The たら is most often used to express conditional statements like “if-when” sentences in English. For example, sentences like: “If I study every day, my Japanese will improve fast.” Or “When I entered the room, everyone turned to look at me.”  

It’s a super useful pattern to know, so let’s get started!

Conjugating Verbs Into the たら Form

To start, let’s break down all the ways to conjugate words into the たら form. The most common uses of the たら form are with verbs. Just like in English, where conditional statements often use verbs or actions, Japanese also uses the たら form with verbs to express the idea of: “If X is done, Y.”

Conjugating verbs into the たら form requires some memorization, as the conjugation differs depending on the type of verb: Group 2/る (ru) verbs, Group I/う (u) verbs, or irregular verbs. 

Conjugating Group 2 / る-Verbs

Let’s look at group 2, or る-verbs first since they are the easiest to conjugate. Group 2 verbs always end in the hiragana “る,” preceded by a hiragana with the vowel sound え (e) or い (i).

Examples of Group 2 / る-Verbs:

  • 食べる (taberu):  to eat
  • 起きる (okiru): to awake
  • 見る (miru): to see
  • 寝る (neru): to go to bed
  • あげる (ageru): to give

To conjugate group 2 verbs into the たら form, all you need to do is replace the final る with たら.

Group 2/る-Verb Conjugation:

Group 2 VerbTake off the “る” (Stem Form)+ たら (Tara)Group 2 Verb in Tara Form
食べる (taberu)
to eat
食べ (tabe)+ たら食べたら (tabetara): If I eat ~. / When I eat/ate~.
起きる (okiru)
to wake up
起き (oki)+ たら起きたら (okitara): If I wake up~. / When I wake up/woke up~.
見る (miru)
to see
見 (mi)+ たら見たら (mitara): If I see~. / When I see/saw~.
寝る (neru)
to go to bed
寝 (ne)+ たら寝たら (netara): If I go to bed~. / When I go/went to bed~.
あげる (ageru)
to give
あげ (age)+ たらあげたら (agetara): If I give ~. / When I give/gave~.

Conjugating Group 1 / う-Verbs

Next are the う-verbs, which are more complicated due to the different patterns they follow. う-verbs end with a hiragana that has the う vowel sound but is commonly not る. If a group 1 verb ends in a “る,” the preceding hiragana has a vowel sound of either あ (a), お (o), or う.

Be sure to check out our verb conjugation guide to learn about these verbs in more detail.  

Examples of Group 1 / う-Verbs:

  • 書く (kaku):  to write
  • 蒸す (musu): to steam
  • 買う (kau): to buy
  • 泳ぐ (oyogu): to swim
  • 作る (tsukuru): to make
  • 飲む (nomu): to drink
  • 遊ぶ (asobu): to play

Each of these verbs has a different conjugation pattern, depending on the last hiragana character. Take a look at the list of conjugations below, and pay careful attention to the additional and changed hiragana in each example.

  • → 買ったら (kattara): If I buy~. / When I buy/bought~.
    • Replace う with a small っ (unvoiced double consonant) and add たら
  • → 書いたら (kaitara): If I write ~. / When I write/wrote ~.
    • Replace く (ku) with い and add たら
  • → 蒸したら (mushitara): If I steam~. / When I steam/steamed~.
    • Replace す (su) with し (shi) and add たら
  • → 泳いだら (oyoidara): If I swim~. / When I swim/swam~.
    • Replace ぐ (gu) with い and add だら (dara)
  • → 作ったら (tsukuttara): If I make~. / When I make/made~.
    • Replace る with a small っ and add たら
  • → 飲んだら (nondara): If I drink~. / When I drink/drank~.
    • Replace む (mu) with ん (n) and add だら
  • → 遊んだら (asondara): If I play~. / When I play/played~.
    • Replace ぶ (bu) with ん and add だら

Group 3 / Irregular Verbs

Japanese has only two irregular verbs (depending on how you define “irregular,” there can be more verbs in this category, but these two are by far the most recognized).

  • する (suru):to do
  • 来る (kuru):to come

These irregular verbs follow their own patterns and must be memorized independently, with the たら form being no exception. Take a look at the conjugations below for each verb.

  • する → したら (shitara): If I do ~. / When I do/did ~.
  • 来る → 来たら (kitara): If I come ~. / When I come/came ~.

Verbs: How to Use the Tara Form Naturally 

Using the たら form of verbs is simple: the verb becomes the connector between the two phrases that make up the conditional statement.

Take a look at the following two sentences for examples.

Example Sentences:

1. 熱いコーヒーを飲んだら唇を火傷した。
(atsui kōhī o nondara kuchibiru o yakedo shita.)
When I drank hot coffee, I burnt my lips.

2. お酒を飲んだら顔が赤くなる。
(osake o nondara kao ga akaku naru.)
If I drink (alcohol) my face turns red.

3. そうしたら危ないよ。
(sō shitara abunai yo)
If you do that, it will be dangerous.

Conjugating Adjectives Into the たら Form 

The たら form can also be used with adjectives and nouns. Here’s how to conjugate adjectives.

There are two types of adjectives in Japanese: い (i)-form adjectives and な (na)-form adjectives. These names refer to the final hiragana used within each type; い adjectives always end in い, and な adjectives use な* as the connector when used with nouns. As an example, take a look at the following list.

I-Adjective Examples:

  • 可愛(kawaii): Cute
  • (atsui): Hot (Weather)
  • : Fast (Speed)
  • : Dark

Na-Adjective Examples:

  • 綺麗 (kirei na): Pretty/Clean
  • 簡単(kantan na): Simple
  • 静か (shizuka na): Quiet
  • 上手 (jо̄zu na): Skillful

*Note:  な adjectives are sometimes used as nouns or adverbs; in these cases, the connector な is not used. Please check out our article on adjectives for more details.

Conjugating I-Adjectives

い-adjectives are conjugated by changing the adjective into its past tense form by replacing い with かった (katta) and adding a ら (ra) at the end.

I-Adjective Conjugation

I-AdjectiveTake off the “い” (i) at the end and add かった (katta)+ ら (Ra)I-Adjective in Tara Form
可愛 (kawaii)
Cute
可愛かった (kawai katta)+ ら可愛かったら (kawaikattara): If someone/something is cute ~.
(atsui)
Hot
暑かった (atsu katta)+ ら 暑かったら (atsukattara): If/When it’s hot ~
(hayai)
Fast  
速かった (haya katta)+ ら速かったら (hayakattara): If/When it’s fast ~ 
(kurai)
Dark
暗かった (kura katta)+ ら暗かったら (kurakattara): If/When it’s dark ~

Conjugating Na-Adjectives

な adjectives, on the other hand, are not conjugated into the たら form directly. Instead, they are combined with the verb です (desu), which means “to be,” in its たら form.

  • です (polite dictionary form) → でしたら (deshitara)
  • だ (da, casual dictionary form) → だったら (dattara)

Na-Adjective Conjugation

Na-AdjectiveTake off the “” (na) at the end+ でしたら (deshitara)/だったら (dattara)Na-Adjective in Tara Form
綺麗な (kirei na)
Pretty/Clean
綺麗 (kirei)+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
綺麗でしたら (kirei deshitara)/だったら (kirei dattara): If it/someone/something is clean/pretty ~.
簡単な (kantan na)
Simple
簡単 (kantan)+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
簡単でしたら (kantan deshitara)/だったら (kantan dattara): If it’s simple ~
静かな (shizuka na)
Quiet
静か (shizuka)+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
静かでしたら (shizuka deshitara)/だったら (shizuka dattara): If it/someone/somewhere is quiet ~.
上手な (jо̄zu na)
Skillfull
上手 (jо̄zu)+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
上手でしたら (jо̄zu deshitara)/だったら (jо̄zu dattara): If someone is skillfull ~.

Take a look at the following two example sentences that use the い adjective and the な adjective, respectively.

Examples Sentences:  

1. 子犬が可愛かったら、買えばいいじゃん。
(koinu ga kawaikattara, kaeba ī jyan.)
If the puppy is cute, you should buy it.

2. こんな問題が簡単だったら、試験は問題ないと思う。
(konna mondai ga kantan dattara, shiken wa mondai nai to omou)
If these problems are simple, I think the test should be no problem.

Conjugating Nouns Into the たら Form

The たら form can also be used with nouns. Just like with な-adjectives, nouns are combined with the たら form of です.

Noun Conjugation

Noun+ でしたら (deshitara)/だったら (dattara)Na-Adjective in Tara Form
学生 (gakusei)
Student (university)
+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
学生でしたら(gakusei deshitara)/だったら (gakusei dattara): If someone is a student ~(university student).
お金 (okane)
Money
+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
お金でしたら(okane deshitara)/だったら (okane dattara): If it’s money ~.
飲み物 (nomimono)
Drink/Drinks
+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
飲み物でしたら(nomimono deshitara)/だったら (nomimono dattara): If it’s a drink/drinks ~.
薬 (kusuri)
Medicine
+ でしたら (deshitara)/
だったら (dattara)
薬でしたら(kusuri deshitara)/だったら (kusuri dattara): If it’s medicine ~.

Example Sentences:  

1. 試合が月曜日だったら、私は見に行きたい。
(shiai ga getsuyōbi dattara, watashi wa mi ni ikitai)
If the match is scheduled for Monday, I want to go and watch.

2. 私だったら彼と絶対に行かない。
(watashi dattara kare to zettai ni ikanai.)
If it were me, I would definitely not go with him.  

The Negative Tara From 

Being able to express negative conditionals is also essential, and with the たら form, this is possible through negative conjugation in Japanese. The negative conjugation of verbs, adjectives, and nouns follows similar patterns to the positive conjugations described above, but with some differences.

For verbs, the negative conjugation into the たら form requires the verb to be conjugated first into its negative form, which ends in ない (nai). As with the previous conjugations, verbs follow different conjugation patterns depending on whether they are る verbs, う verbs, or irregular verbs.

Group 2 / る-Verbs: Negative Form

Before we get into the negative tara form, we need to know how to conjugate verbs into their negative form. For Group 2/る-Verbs, all you need to do is add “nai” to the stem form of a verb.

Group 2 / る-verbs Negative Form Conjugation

Group 2 VerbStem Form+ ない (Nai)Group 2 Verb in Negative Form
食べる (taberu)
to eat
食べ (tabe)+ ない食べない (tabenai): Don’t/will not eat~.
起きる (okiru)
to wake up
起き (oki)+ ない起きない (okinai): Don’t/will not wake up~.
見る (miru)
to see
見 (mi)+ ないない (minai)
Don’t/will not see ~.
寝る (neru)
to go to bed
寝 (ne)+ ないない (nenai)
Don’t/will not go to bed~.
あげる (ageru)
to give
あげ (age)+ ないあげない (agenai)
Don’t/will not give~.

Group 1 / う-Verbs: Negative Form

Group-1-Negative-Verbs

To change a group 1 verb into its negative form, you replace the last character of the verb (which is character in row 3 of the hiragana chart) with the character in row 1 of of the hiragana chart (as seen in the image above). Then you add “nai” to this to get the negative form. The only exception is if a verb ends in a う (u). In this case, the characters would change to わ (wa).

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! It’s actually easy to learn. Check out our beginner’s guide to conjugating verbs to learn all about it.

Group 1 / う-Verbs: Negative Form Conjugation

Group 1 VerbReplace last character with row 1 character in the hiragana chart+ ない (Nai)Group 1 Verb in Negative Form
(kaku)
to write
(kaka)+ ないかない (kakanai)
Don’t/will not write~.
(musu)
to steam
(musa)+ ないさない (musanai) Don’t/will not steam~.
(kau)
to buy
(kawa)+ ないわない (kawanai)
Don’t/will buy ~.
(oyogu)
to swim
(oyoga)+ ないがない (oyoganai)
Don’t/will not swim~.
(tsukuru)
to make
(tsukura)+ ないらない (tsukuranai)
Don’t/will not make~.
(nomu)
to drink
(noma)+ ないまない (nomanai)
Don’t/will not drink~.
(asobu)
to play
(asoba)+ ないばない (asobanai)
Don’t/will not play~.

Group 3 / Irregular Verbs: Negative Form

The negative form for the two major irregualr verbs are:

  • する → しない (shinai)
  • 来る → 来ない (konai)

Conjugating Verbs Into the Negative Tara Form

After conjugating to the negative form of the verb, you can then move to the たら form by replacing the last い (i) with かったら (kattara).

Group 2 / る Verbs: Negative Tara Form Conjugation

Group 2 Verb in Negative FormRemove Final い (i)+ かったら (Kattara)Group 2 Verb in Negative Tara Form
食べない (tabenai)
do not/will not eat
食べな (tabena)+ かったら食べなかったら (tabenakattara):
If you don’t/will not eat ~.
起きない (okinai)
do not/will not wake up
起きな (okina)+ かったら起きなかったら (okinakattara):
If you don’t/will not wake up~.
見ない (minai)
do not/will not see
見な (mina)+ かったら見なかったら (minakattara):
If you don’t/will not see/look ~.
寝ない (nenai)
do not/will not go to bed
寝な (nena)+ かったら寝なかったら(nenakattara):
If you don’t/will not go to bed ~.
あげない (agenai)
do not/will not give
あげな (agena)+ かったらあげなかったら (agenakattara):
If you don’t/will not give ~.

Group 1 / う-Verbs: Negative Tara Form Conjugation

Group 1 VerbRemove Final い (i)+ かったら (Kattara)Group 1 Verb in Negative Tara Form
書かない (kakanai)
do not/will not write
書かな (kakana)+ かったら書かなかったら (kakanakattara): If you don’t/will not write ~.
蒸さない (musanai)
do not/will not
(musa)+ かったら蒸さなかったら (musanakattara): If you don’t/will not steam ~.
買わない (kawanai)
do not/will not buy
買わな (kawana)+ かったら買わなかったら(kawanakattara):
If you don’t/will not buy ~.
泳がない (oyoganai)
do not/will not swim
泳がな (oyogana)+ かったら泳がなかったら(oyoganakattara): If you don’t/will not swim ~.
作らない (tsukuranai)
do not/will not make
作らな (tsukurana)+ かったら作らなかったら (tsukuranakattara): If you don’t/will not make ~.
飲まない (nomanai)
do not/will not drink
飲まな (nomana)+ かったら飲まなかったら (nomanakattara): If you don’t/will not drink ~.
遊ばない (asobanai)
do not/will not play
遊ばな (asobana)+ かったら遊ばなかったら (asobanakattara): If you don’t/will not play ~.

Group 3 / Irregular Verbs: Negative Tara Form Conjugation

  • しない → しなかったら (shinakattara): If you don’t/will not do ~.
  • 来ない → 来なかったら (konakattara): If you don’t/will not come ~. 

Negative Tara Form With I-Adjectives 

い-adjectives are also conjugated into the negative tara form by first changing them into their negative form, and then replacing the final い with かったら. See our complete guide on conjugating adjectives if you want more details on how to change adjectives into their negative form.

I-Adjectives: Negative Tara Form Conjugation

I-Adjective in Negative FormRemove Final い (i)+ かったら (Kattara)I-Adjective in Negative Tara Form
可愛くない (kawaikunai)
Not cute
可愛くな (kawaikuna)+ かったら可愛くなかったら (kawaikuna kattara):
If someone/something is not cute ~.
くない (atsukunai)
Not hot
暑くな (atsukuna)+ かったら暑くなかったら (atsukuna kattara):
If it is not hot~.
くない (hayakunai)
Not fast  
速くな (hayakuna)+ かったら速くなかったら (hayakuna kattara):
If it’s not fast~.
くない (kurakunai)
Not dark
暗くな (kurakuna)+ かったら暗くなかったら (kurakuna kattara):
If it’s not dark ~.

Na-Adjectives and Nouns: Negative Tara Form

Lastly, な-adjectives and nouns can be used with the たら form in the negative by conjugating です into negative たら form. You’ll also removed the last い (i) and then add かったら.

  • です → ではない (dewanai) → ではなかったら (dewanakattara): More Formal
  • だ → じゃない (janai) → じゃなかったら (janakattara): Casual Form

Na-Adjectives Negative Tara Form Conjugation

Na-Adjective in Negative FormRemove Final い (i)+ かったら (Kattara)Na-Adjective in Negative Tara Form
綺麗ではない (kirei dewa nai)
綺麗じゃない (kirei ja nai)
Not pretty/clean
綺麗ではな (kirei dewa na)
綺麗じゃな (kirei ja na)
+ かったら綺麗ではなかったら(kirei de wa nakattara)
綺麗じゃなかったら (ja nakattara):
If someone/something is not clean/pretty ~.
簡単ではない (kantan dewa nai)
簡単 じゃない (kantan ja nai)
Not simple
簡単ではな (kantan dewa na)
簡単 じゃな (kantan ja na)
+ かったら簡単ではなかったら(kantan de wa nakattara)
簡単じゃなかったら (ja nakattara):
If it’s not simple ~.
静かではない (shizuka dewa nai)
静か じゃない (shizuka ja nai)
Not quiet
静かではな (shizuka dewa na)
静か じゃな (shizuka ja na)
+ かったら静かではなかったら (shizuka de wa nakattara
静かじゃなかったら (ja nakattara):
If it/someone/somewhere is not quiet ~.
上手ではない (jо̄zu dewa nai)
上手じゃない (jо̄zu ja nai)
Not skillful
上手ではな (jо̄zu dewa na)
上手じゃな (jо̄zu ja na)
+ かったら上手ではなかったら(jо̄zu de wa nakattara)
上手じゃなかったら (ja nakattara): 
If someone is not skillful~.

Example Sentences:

1. ご飯を全部食べなかったらデザートは無しよ。
(gohan o zenbu tabenakattara dezāto wa nashi yo.)
If you don’t finish your meal, you can’t have dessert.

2. その鞄が可愛くなかったらプレゼントによくないかもしれない。
(sono kaban ga kawaikunakattara purezento ni yokunai kamoshirenai)
If the bag isn’t cute, it may not be suitable as a present.

The Various Meanings of the たら Form

Until now, we have been discussing the たら form as the grammar for a conditional statement (If X, then Y). This is the most common way to use the たら form, but it is not the only way.

When ~

Another common usage of the たら form is for the meaning “when x happened, y.” This is always in the past tense: the speaker talks about an event that already happened. Take a look at the following example sentence to see this meaning in action.

Example Sentences:  

1. 私が学校から帰ったら、知らない猫が家の中にいた。
(watashi ga gakkō kara kaettara shiranai neko ga ie no naka ni ita)
When I came home from school, there was a strange cat in the house.

2. コンビニに行ったら、えみちゃんとばったり会った。
(konbini ni ittara, Emi chan to battari atta.)
When I went to the convenience store, I unexpectedly ran into Emi.  

While the two statements of “x” and “y” does not have to be related, y is always implied to come after x, or to be found through x when using this grammar form.

Using the Tara Form to Make a Suggestion

In addition, the たら form can also be used when making a suggestion. In this case, the たら form which is almost always used with a verb for this grammar is combined with the phrase どうですか (dō desu ka), meaning in this context “why don’t you….” For a casual suggestion between family or friends, you could leave out the どうですか and just use the verb in the tara form (example 2 below).

Example Sentences:

1. 頭が痛いなら薬を飲んだらどうですか?
(atama ga itai nara kusuri o nondara dō desu ka?)
Why don’t you take some medicine for your hurting head?

2. 体調が悪いなら病院に行ったら?
(taichō ga warui nara byōin ni ittara?)
If you don’t feel good, why don’t you go to the doctor?

3. 約束の時間に遅れそうだからタクシーで行ったらどうですか?
(yakusoku no jikan ni okuresou dakara takushī de ittara dō desu ka?)
Looks like you are going to be late for your appointment, so why don’t you take a taxi?

4. 雨が降りそうだから傘を持って行ったら?
(ame ga furisō dakara kasa o motte ittara?)
It looks like it’s going to rain, so why don’t you take an umbrella with you?

The たら Form Vs. Other Conditional Forms

The たら form is not the only way to make a conditional statement in Japanese; you may be familiar with the ば (ba) form, the use of the と particle, and the なら grammar point. 

To help make the たら form clearer, here is a simple outline of the differences of each:

  1. The たら form, when used as a conditional, is used for situations that are possible but not guaranteed. In other words, the speaker is not sure if the condition will come true.
  2. The ば form is used for hypothetical situations, such as “If I were rich…” In other words, ば statements are usually unlikely to happen or are general wishes.
  3. The なら grammar point is most often used when the speaker already knows the outcome, similar to the English “If that’s the case….”
  4. The と particle, when used as a conditional, is used for logical outcomes that will always be true. For this reason, it is often used to give directions; “If you cross the bridge, you can see the ocean.”

The たら form is a very useful grammar pattern to have in your arsenal. Adding this grammar point to your communication abilities will give you a great new breadth of expression, so give it a try any chance you get.

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