Wild Nihongo!
ばよかった / てよかった

ばよかった / てよかった

ばよかった / てよかった Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: I wish X had done Y

Construction: 

  • Group 1 Verbs:
    • Verb conditional form + ばよかった
      • E.g. はなせばよかった [I wish X had spoken]
  • Group 2 Verbs:
    • Verb stem + ればよかった
      • E.g. べればよかった [I wish X had eaten]
  • Irregular Verbs:
    • る = ればよかった [I wish X had come]
    • する = すればよかった [I wish X had done it]

Notes:

  • ばよかった is an idiomatic usage of the conditional conjunction in which some condition did not come to fruition in the past, but the speaker wishes that it had. In other words, ばよかった expresses counterfactual, wishful thinking and can be translated as “I wish X had done Y“. ばよかった conjugates just like , but it is only used with verbs and is not used with nouns or adjectives.
  • When a sentence with ばよかった does not specify a subject, the speaker is assumed to be the subject.
    • E.g. あのほんめばよかった。[I wish I had read that book.] In this case no subject is specified, so the speaker is assumed to be the subject.
  • When a third person (i.e. someone other than the speaker) wishes someone had done something, the phrase とおもっている is appended to ばよかった.
    • E.g. ビルは日本にほんけばよかったとおもっている。[Bill thinks that it would have been good if he had gone to Japan.] Here a third person named Bill is the subject, so とおもっている is appended.
  • てよかった (i.e. て-Form + よかった) is a similar grammatical structure to ばよかった. The difference is that てよかった expresses a factual past state or action, while ばよかった expresses a counterfactual past state or action.
    • E.g. あのほんんでよかった。[I’m glad that I read that book.]
    • E.g. あのほんめばよかった。[I wish I had read that book.]

Example Sentences:

先生せんせいけばよかった。[It would have been good if I had asked the teacher.]

マークは日本にほんけばよかったね。[It would have been good if Mark had gone to Japan, don’t you think?]

もっと英語えいご勉強べんきょうしておけばよかったなあ。[It would have been good if I had studied more English in advance.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 1:57: これほど設計せっけい才能さいのうがないなら、天文学者てんもんがくしゃ目指めざせばよかった [If it were the case that I didn’t have such a talent for planning, it would have been good if I had tried to become an astronomer.]
This song begins with the following line: イェーイ!きみきでよかった、このままずっとずっとぬまでハッピー、万歳ばんざいきみえてよかった、このままずっとずっとラララ二人ふたり [Yeah! I’m glad that I fell in love with you. Just like this, just like this, I’ll be happy until I die…Banzai! I’m glad that I was able to meet you. Just like this, just like this, la la la, just the two of us]
Listen to this line at 2:00: さようならすることになるなら、もっとやさしくしとけばよかった [If it’s the case that this is goodbye, I wish I had treated you more kindly.]

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