How to Make and Use Japanese -Ba Form
Japanese -Ba Form is rather like -Te Form in that it is not super useful all by itself, but is used in making many very common and helpful sentence patterns. Conjugating a verb into -Ba Form generally makes its meaning “if [someone] [verb]s,” and so verbs in -Ba Form can be used to make conditional (if-then) sentences. They can also be used to ask for advice, to say that someone has to do something, and to express “the more [someone] [verb]s, the more…[result].”
This article will discuss how to make -Ba Form, how to use -Ba Form, and some things to watch out for in relation to -Ba Form.
How to Make Japanese -Ba Form
As is true of most Japanese conjugation patterns, when making -Ba Form it is best to start with a verb’s Plain Form (Plain Form is also sometimes called Dictionary Form, Casual Form, or Short Form. To read our article on Plain Form verbs, click here).
For positive verbs:
1.If your verb is a Ru Verb*,
remove the final る (ru) and replace it with れば (reba).
寝る → 寝れば (Neru → Nereba)
2. If your verb is an U Verb*,
you must change the final vowel of the verb, and then add ば (ba).
Because Japanese has a syllable-based writing system, changing the final vowel means you must change the entire final syllable of the verb.
Firstly, to determine which syllable you will change it to, first check your verb to see what consonant its final syllable begins with.
Then, find that consonant row on a hiragana chart, and slide along the row until you intersect with the “e” column.
For example, to conjugate the verb “nomu” (to drink) to -Ba Form, slide along the “m” row until you get to the “e” column. There you will find “me.” Replace the “mu” with “me,” and add “ba”:
飲む → 飲めば (Nomu → Nomeba)
a. Be careful of verbs ending with “tsu,” and verbs ending with just a vowel (“u”). The “t” row of the hiragana chart goes “ta chi tsu te to,” with two irregular sounds (“chi” and “tsu”); and so verbs ending with “tsu” will end with “teba” in -Ba Form. For example:
立つ → 立てば (Tatsu → Tateba)
b. Verbs ending with just the vowel “u” will end with “eba” in -Ba Form. For example:
買う → 買えば (Kau → Kaeba)
c. Japanese’s two common irregular verbs する suru (to do) and 来る kuru (to come) conjugate as follows:
する → すれば (Suru → Sureba)
来る → 来れば (Kuru → Kureba)
*If you are not sure what a Ru Verb or an U Verb is or would like to review, you can read about Ru Verbs vs. U Verbs in our article about verb stems here.
For negative verbs:
Some Japanese verb conjugation patterns (such as Potential Form) result in all verbs becoming Ru Verbs, which means to make a verb that is in Potential Form negative you simply conjugate it as you would any other Ru Verb. Other Japanese verb conjugation patterns (such as Volitional Form) cannot be used with or made into a negative tense.
-Ba Form can be used with verbs that are in a negative tense, but works differently from Potential Form in that you have to conjugate your verb to be negative first, and then conjugate it into -Ba Form; as opposed to conjugating the verb to be negative after conjugating it into -Ba Form.
When conjugating a verb into -Ba Form, whether a positive tense verb or a negative tense verb, you begin with the Plain Form of the verb. Every negative tense verb that is in Plain Form ends with ない nai, so for conjugating negative tense verbs into -Ba Form there is only one pattern to memorize (no difference for Ru Verbs and U Verbs)! Simply remove the い i, and replace it with ければ kereba:
食べない → 食べなければ (Tabenai → Tabena kereba)
立たない → 立たなければ (Tatanai → Tatana kereba)
しない → しなければ (Shinai → Shina kereba)
来ない → 来なければ (Konai → Kona kereba)
-Ba Form is a conjugation that can be used with adjectives, also. To conjugate either a positive or negative i-adjective into -Ba Form, replace its final い i with ければ kereba.
寒い → 寒ければ (Samui → Samu kereba)
寒くない → 寒くなければ (Samuku nai → Samuku nakereba)
To conjugate a positive na-adjective into -Ba Form, replace its final な na with either なら nara or であれば de areba. To conjugate a negative na-adjective into -Ba Form, replace its final ない nai with でなければ de nakereba.
便利な → 便利なら／便利であれば (Benri na → Benri nara / Benri de areba)
便利じゃない → 便利でなければ (Benri janai → Benri de nakereba)
How to Use -Ba Form
-Ba Form is a conditional pattern and so is used to make “if” sentences.
Kawa chan wa asa hayaku okireba, san ji goro hirune o shimasu.
If Kawa-chan gets up early, she will take an afternoon nap around 3:00.
Kawa chan wa asa hayaku okina kereba, gakkou ni chikoku shimasu.
If Kawa-chan doesn’t get up early, she will be late to school.
Asa okite samukereba, ko-to o kite itta hou ga ii deshou.
If you get up in the morning and itiscold, it would be good to go wearing a coat.
If a negative -Ba Form verb is followed by ikemasen (or the Plain Form of ikemasen, ikenai), the -Ba Form verb plus ikemasen mean “have to [verb].”
Kawa chan wa asa hayaku okireba, san ji goro hirune o shina kereba ikemasen.
If Kawa-chan gets up early, she has to take an afternoon nap around 3:00.
If a -Ba Form verb is followed by the same verb in Plain Form and the word hodo, it is expressing “the more [someone] [verb]s, the more…[result].”
Hayaoki sureba suru hodo, narete kimasu ne.
The more one gets up early, the more one comes to be used to it.
-Ba Form can be used to ask someone what they think you should do.
You can use a specific verb to ask about a specific action:
Hayaku okireba ii desu ka?
Ought I to get up early?
Or, you can use the -Ba Form of する suru (to do):
Dou sureba ii desu ka?
What should I do?
Note that the word どう dou in many other circumstances is closer to “how” than “what,” but in this particular sentence is used as we would use the word “what.”
-Ba Form can be combined with quite a few other Japanese conjugation patterns.
However, always be careful to do the other conjugation first, and the -Ba Form conjugation second. For example, we can conjugate the verb in the following sentence from our Causative Form article into -Ba Form, and then add an additional phrase onto the end of the sentence:
Causative Form sentence:
Kawa chan wa Amigo ni asagohan o tsukuraseru.
Kawa-chan has Amigo make breakfast.
Causative Form and -Ba Form sentence:
Kawa chan wa Amigo ni asagohan o tsukuraseba, suteki na hottoke-ki ga tabe rareru deshou.
If Kawa-chan has Amigo make breakfast, they will be able to eat lovely pancakes.
-Ba Form and Potential Form* greatly resemble one another. Be careful of which one you are using when you conjugate, and which one you are seeing when you read.
起きられる okirareru (I can get up)
起きれば okireba (if I get up)
飲める nomeru (I can drink)
飲めば nomeba (if I drink)
As we mentioned in the section above this one, -Ba Form can combine with other conjugation patterns. So, a Japanese verb can be conjugated into Potential Form, and then the verb in Potential Form can be conjugated into -Ba Form (note that these two steps cannot be reversed).
起きられれば okirare reba (if I can get up)
飲めれば nome reba (if I can drink)
*To read our article on Potential Form, click here.
That’s all on -Ba Form for now!
If you have any questions about -Ba Form or about this article, please leave us a comment below!
For a full list of our articles on Japanese grammar, click here.