Mastering the と (To) Conditional in Japanese

There are multiple ways to form conditional statements in Japanese, often known as “if” statements in English. One such method is the と (to) conditional, of which we will discuss the meaning and usage in detail in this article. While this conditional is often considered an “easy” grammar point, some things can be tricky. So let’s get right into it and learn all about the と conditional in Japanese.  

The と Conditional: What Does it Mean?

In simple terms, the meaning of the と (to) conditional when used in a sentence is “if X, then Y.” However, this particular conditional is only used in cases where Y is a guaranteed result of X, such as directions or status. “If X happens, then Y will surely happen/is happening.”  

The と conditional always implies a natural progression between two actions or events. 

For example, take a look at the following example sentence:

(kono hashi o wataru to gakkō ga mieru.)
If you cross this bridge, you can see the school.

While the conditional is formed with the “if” in English, it is safe to assume that unless the school disappeared suddenly, you would always be able to see it after crossing the bridge. As such, the と conditional is used to convey said guarantee of result in sentences like this one.

Though と is always a conditional grammar point in this context, there are also cases when it can be translated to “when” in English. The example sentence below shows one such case.

(koko nihon dewa, natsu ni naru to semi ga nakihajimeru.)
Here in Japan, when summer comes, the cicadas begin to chatter.

Like the first example sentence, the result of the cicadas chattering is guaranteed by the coming of summer. However, summer is also guaranteed to come, which is why “when” is used instead of “if.”

Remember that the と conditional is used if the result of something is guaranteed or is generally accepted as true.

Using the と Conditional With Verbs

The と (to) conditional is very flexible, and it can be used with verbs, adjectives, and nouns. To start, let’s discuss its usage with verbs. As you may have noticed, the two example sentences above use the と conditional with verbs.

You’ll use と conditional with present tense verbs in either the affirmative or negative form. You’ll just put the と directly after the verb.  


1. 雷が落ちるとうちの猫は逃げて隠れる。
(kaminari ga ochiru to uchi no neko wa nigete kakureru.)
When there’s lightning, my cat runs and hides.

2. いっぱい食べると眠くなる。
(ippai taberu to nemuku naru.)
If I eat a lot, I get sleepy.

3. 船に乗るといつも船酔いをする。
(fune ni noru to itsumo funayoi o suru.)
When I get on a ship, I always get seasick. 

The present negative form of the verb can also be used with the と conditional if the “X” statement is negative.

1. 走らないと遅刻するよ。
(hashiranai to chikoku suru yo.)
You’ll be late if you don’t run.

2. 練習しないと上手にならない。
(renshū shinai to jōzu ni naranai.)
You won’t get better at it if you don’t practice.

3. 部屋を掃除しないとお母さんに怒られる。
(heya o sōji shinai to okāsan ni okorareru.)
If I don’t clean my room, my mother will get mad at me.

The verb must always be in the present tense, whether positive or negative, to imply that the “Y” statement always happens.

Using the と Conditional With Adjectives

Next, let’s discuss the use of the と conditional with adjectives.


If you use an i-adjective, you don’t need to conjugate it; just put the と directly after the adjective.  


1. 外が寒いとずっと家の中にいたい。
(soto ga samui to zutto ie no naka ni itai)
When it’s cold outside, I want to spend all day inside the house.

2. 値段が高いとあまり売れない。
(nedan ga takai to amari urenai.)
If the price is high, it won’t sell a lot.

3. 年のせいか字が小さいと良く見えない。
(toshi no seika ji ga chiisai to yoku mienai.)
I don’t know if it’s because of my age, but I can’t see well if the writing is small.

In addition, like verbs, adjectives can also be used with the と conditional in their negative form to create negative conditionals, like in this sentence:

1. 髪型が可愛くないと人の前に出たくない。
(kamigata ga kawaikunai to hito no mae ni detakunai.)
If my hairstyle isn’t cute, I don’t want to be seen by other people.

2. 足が速くないと陸上部に入部できない。
(ashiga hayakunai to rikujōbu ni nyūbu dekinai.)
If you can’t run fast, you can’t join the track club.

3. ラーメンは熱くないと美味しくありません。
(rāmen wa atsukunai to oishiku arimasen.)
Ramen doesn’t taste good if it’s not hot.


However, for na-adjectives, you will replace the な (na) with だ (da) followed by the と conditional.

Na-AdjectiveReplace な (Na) With だ (Da)+ と (To)と Conditional with Na-Adjective
(kirei na)
(kirei da)
(kirei da to)
If (it’s) pretty ~
(shizuka na)
(shizuka da)
(shizuka da to)
If (it’s) quiet ~
(benri na)
(benri da)
(benri da to)
If (it’s) convenient~
(jōzu na)
(jōzu da)
(jōzu da to)
If (someone is) skillfull~
(taisetsu na)
(taisetsu da)
(taisetsu da to)
If (it’s) important~


1. わがままだと友だちが出来ませんよ。
(wagamama da to tomodachi ga dekimasen yo.)
If you are selfish, you won’t be able to make friends.

2. 幸せだと人にやさしくなれます。
(shiawase da to hito ni yasashiku naremasu.)
If you are happy, you can be nice to others.

3. 日本語が上手だと日本で仕事が見つかるかもしれません。
(nihongo ga jōzu da to nihon de shigoto ga mitsukaru kamo shiremasen.)
If your Japanese is good, you might be able to find a job in Japan.

Negative Na-Adjectives with the と Conditional

You can also use negative na-adjectives with the と conditional. 

Take a na-adjective and add either でないと (de nai to) or じゃないと (ja nai to) after it (without the な).  でないと is more formal and じゃないと is used in casual speech.  

(withou the な)
+でない (De Nai) /
じゃない (Ja Nai)
+ と (To)と Conditional with Na-Adjective in Negative Form
でない (de nai) or
じゃない (ja nai)
きれいでないと / きれいじゃないと
(kirei dewa nai to / kirei ja nai to)
If (it’s) not pretty ~
でない (de nai) or
じゃない (ja nai)
静かでないと / 静かじゃないと
(shizuka dewa nai to / shizuka ja nai to)
If (it’s) not quiet ~
でない (de nai) or
じゃない (ja nai)
便利でない / 便利じゃないと
(benri dewa nai to / benri ja nai to)
If (it’s) not convenient~
でない (de nai) or
じゃない (ja nai)
上手でない / 上手じゃないと
(jōzu dewa nai to / jōzu ja nai to)
If (someone/something is) not skillfull~
でない (de nai) or
じゃない (ja nai)
大切でない / 大切じゃないと
(taisetsu dewa nai to / taisetsu ja nai to)
If (it’s) not important~

*IMPORTANT:Normally, the negative form of です (desu) would beでない (de wa nai).  However, when forming a negative conditional with と (to), you must drop the は and use でない.

It is very easy to make this mistake, so please be careful:

  • Correct:  でないと
  • Wrong:  ではないと 


1. 仕事に一生懸命じゃないと昇進できません。
(shigoto ni ishyōkenmei ja nai to shōshin dekimasen.)
If you don’t work hard on your job you won’t get a promotion.

2. 本当に犬が好きでないと、毎日世話をするのは大変だ。
(hontō ni inu ga suki de nai to, mainichi sewa o suru no wa taihen da.)
If you really don’t like dogs, it’ll be a pain to take care of them every day.

3. 話し合いが十分でないとみんなの同意を得られません。
(hanashiai ga jūbun de nai to minna no dōi o eraremasen.)
If we don’t discuss enough, we can’t get everyone’s agreement.

Using the と Conditional With Nouns

Lastly, the と conditional can also be used with nouns. Nouns can be used in positive and negative conditional statements with the と conditional, just like verbs and adjectives. Still, because they have no conjugations of their own, they are combined with the verb です (desu), which means “to be.”

Take a look at the following example sentence:

(chokorēto da to kanarazu taberu.)
If it is chocolate, I will eat it without fail.

In the bold portion of the sentence, the noun is チョコレート (chokorēto), followed by the verb です, which is followed by と. This is the standard grammar pattern when using this conditional with nouns. In addition, while です is the polite form of the verb, the casual form だ (da) can also be used in the same way.

(iku basho ga tōkyō da to asakusa ga osusume.)
If the place you’re going to is Tokyo, I recommend (visiting) Asakusa.

This is a more casual way of using the conditional with a noun, but its meaning is the same.

Nouns in the Negative Form with the と Conditional

Along with verbs and adjectives, it is also possible to form a negative conditional with nouns.

To do this, you must use the negative form of です, either the formal ではない (dewa nai) or the casual じゃない (ja nai) and then adding と (to).

Noun+ でない (De Nai) / じゃない (Ja Nai)+ と (To)と Conditional With Noun in Negative Form
寿司 (sushi)
でない (de nai) or じゃない (ja nai)寿司でないと / 寿司じゃないと
(sushi de nai to / sushi ja nai to)
If it’s not sushi ~
日本 (nihon)
でない (de nai) or じゃない (ja nai)日本でないと / 日本じゃないと
(nihon de nai to / nihon ja nai to)
If it’s not Japan~
飲み物 (nomimono)
でない (de nai) or じゃない (ja nai)飲み物でないと / 飲み物じゃないと
(nomimono de nai to / nomimono ja nai to)
If it’s not a drink(s)~
旅行 (ryokо̄)
trip, travel
でない (de nai) or じゃない (ja nai)旅行でないと / 旅行じゃないと
(ryokо̄ de nai to / ryokо̄ ja nai to)
If it’s not a trip/travel~
お菓子 (okashi)
candy, sweets
でない (de nai) or じゃない (ja nai)お菓子でないと / お菓子じゃないと
(okashi de nai to / okashi ja nai to)
If it’s not candy/sweets~

**IMPORTANT:  As mentioned in the na-adjective section above, please DO NOT useでないと (de wa nai to) when making a negative conditional with と.  You must take out the は so it becomes でないと.
Correct:  でないと
Wrong:  ではないと 


1. 予約日でないと入場することができません。
(yoyakubi de nai to nyūjō suru koto ga dekimasen.)
If it is not the day of your reservation, you may not enter.

2. スイカは夏でないと美味しくないですよ。
(suika wa natsu de nai to oishiku nai desu yo.)
If it’s not summer, watermelon won’t taste good.

3. ここは現金でないと払えませんよ。
(koko wa genkin de nai to haraemasen yo.)
If not cash, you can’t pay here.

4. 月曜日でないと田中教授に会えません。
(getsuyōbi de nai to Tanaka kyōju ni aemasen.)
If not Monday, I can’t see professor Tanaka.

5. コーヒーじゃないと目が覚めない。
(kōhī ja nai to me ga samenai.)
If it’s not coffee, I can’t wake up.

6. トラックじゃないと運べません。
(torakku janai to hakobenai.)
If it’s not a truck, I can’t transport (it).

Common Uses Of The と Conditional

Here are the most common ways that the と conditional is used in natural Japanese sentences.

Things That Are Consistent

As with several of the above example sentences, the と conditional is often used in cases such as directions, weather, or other daily occurrences that follow set patterns.


1. ここで右に曲がると図書館に着きます。
(koko de migi ni magaru to toshokan ni tsukimasu.)
If you turn right here, you’ll arrive at the library.

2. 明日だと雨でしょう。
(ashita da to ame deshō.)
Tomorrow it will be rainy. (literally “if it’s tomorrow, there will be rain.”)

General Statements or Options Regarded as True

However, it can also be used in general statements of opinion or suggestion, as with the following:


1. 聞かないとだめだよ。
(kikanai to dame da yo.)
You have to ask. (literally “it’s bad if you don’t ask”)

2. 明日が晴れるといいなぁ。
(ashita ga hareru to ii nā.)
I hope it’s sunny tomorrow. (literally “it’s good if tomorrow is sunny”)

3. やらないとわからない。
(yaranai to wakaranai.)
We won’t know if we don’t try.

Habits Or Consistent Behaviors

Lastly, the と conditional can often be used to describe repeated behaviors or habits.


1. 土曜日だと私はカフェに行く。
(doyōbi da to watashi wa kafe ni iku.)
On Saturdays, I go to the cafe.

Keep an eye out for the chance to use the と conditional in any of these situations!


The と conditional is a common way to make conditional statements in Japanese. Hopefully, you’ve gained a good understanding of its usage and meaning in different contexts. Be sure to give it a try in your next Japanese conversation!

If you want to learn the other conditionals in Japanese, check out our lessons on たら (tara) form and ば (ba) form in Japanese.

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Andrew Garrison

A writer and translator currently living in Nagasaki. In love with all things to do with words, from stories and languages to poetry.

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