Wild Nihongo!
それなら

それなら

それなら Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Conjunction

Essential Meaning: If that’s the case / In that case

Construction: Sentence 1. それなら Sentence 2.

Notes:

  • それなら is a conjunctive phrase that means “In that case” or “If that’s the case“. Grammatically, the demonstrative pronoun それ in それなら refers to Sentence 1, and the conjunction なら expresses a judgement or determination based on the supposition that Sentence 1 is true. Taken together, the implication of それなら is that Sentence 2 is a judgement or proposition based on the supposition that Sentence 1 is true. Importantly, それなら can only be used when referring to explicitly spoken context (and not when referring to unspoken context).
    • E.g. A: あたまいたいんです。B: それならすぐなさい。[A: I have a headache. B: If that’s the case, get some rest right away.] In this example, Speaker B’s advice (i.e. to get some sleep) is based on the supposition that the Speaker A’s statement (i.e. that he has a headache) is true.
  • それなら is generally used in a conversational context. In other words, Speaker 1 makes a statement, and then Speaker 2 makes a proposition based on the supposition that Speaker 1’s statement is true.
    • A: 映画えいがきませんか。B: 明日あした試験しけんがあるんです。A: それなら、あさってはどうですか。[A: Shall we go see a movie? B: But I have a test tomorrow. A: If that’s the case, how about the day after tomorrow?] In this example, Speaker B states that he has a test tomorrow. Speaker A responds by suggesting that they see the movie the day after tomorrow instead. This suggestion is based on the supposition that the Speaker A’s statement is true and that Speaker A will therefore be busy studying today and taking the test tomorrow.
  • The rules and limitations of それなら are based on those of なら itself. Please read the なら page for a detailed description.
  • それなら can be formalized as それならば, or it can be made casual with そんなら.
  • There is a subtle difference between それなら and それでは. The difference is that それなら is dependent on spoken context, while それでは can be based on spoken OR unspoken context.
    • E.g. それでは失礼しつれいします。[Well then, I must be going now.] In this example, the それ in それでは refers to the unspoken context that some social activity has ended. Because this context is unspoken, それなら would be inappropriate.
    • E.g. それでは遠慮えんりょなくいただきます。[Well, I guess I’ll take it.] それなら would be inappropriate here for the same reason as above. The unspoken context is that someone is offering the speaker some sort of gift.

Example Sentences:

A: あたまいたいんです。B: それならすぐなさい。[A: I have a headache. B: If that’s the case, get some rest right away.]

A: 映画えいがきませんか。B: 明日あした試験しけんがあるんです。A: それなら、あさってはどうですか。[A: Shall we go see a movie? B: But I have a test tomorrow. A: If that’s the case, how about the day after tomorrow?]

A: 日本にほんにはどのぐらいいましたか。B: 三年さんねんです。A: それなら、日本にほんのことはよくっているでしょうね。[A: How long were you in Japan? B: 3 years: A: If that’s the case, you must know a lot about Japan.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 2:49: さけのせいなの、そんなことは何度なんどいたわ、それなら浮気うわきをしてもいいの [It’s the liquor’s fault, How many times have I heard that before? In that case, go ahead and cheat.]

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