Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 10: 4/22

ものなら ②

If you were to do, If you try to, If … happens, Should there be

Structure

Verb[volitional] + ものなら/もんなら + Phrase

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

Rare Kanji

About ものなら②

ものなら is a combination of the noun もの ‘thing’, and the hypothetical form of the auxiliary verb だ, なら ‘if’. Common translations include ‘If you were to (A), (B)’, of ‘if (A) happens, (B)’. In this particular use of ものなら, (A) will be a verb in its volitional form, and (B) will be some sort of negative result that would come about from that. Let’s have a look at a few examples.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)誕生日(たんじょうび)(わす)れようものなら一日中(いちにちじゅう)機嫌(きげん)(わる)くなる。
    If you were to forget her birthday, she would be in a bad mood all day.
  • このレポートを()(わす)れようものなら(いま)までの努力(どりょく)(みず)(あわ)だ。
    All of our efforts would be worth nothing, if I happen to forget to submit this paper.
  • 以前(いぜん)(おな)じようなことで炎上(えんじょう)したから、また()たようなことで炎上(えんじょう)しようものならこの業界(ぎょうかい)から()されるに(ちが)いない。
    Since we went under fire with something similar before, if we go under fire for something similar again, I am sure we would be sidelined from this industry.
Keeping in mind that the volitional form can mean to approach an action with reckless abandon, it can be thought of as being similar to the English ‘to go and do (A)’, where the ‘to go and’ just indicates proceeding ahead without carefully considering the outcome.
Fun Fact
なら is often translated as ‘if’ in many textbooks and online resources, but knowing that it is just a conjugation of だ ‘is’, the more literal translation is ‘were’. This ‘were’ behaves exactly the same way in English in hypothetical situations, so may potentially be better if you would like to avoid confusion between other ‘if’ grammar patterns like ば, と, and たら. An example of this can be seen in sentences like ‘were it to rain tomorrow, then I would need an umbrella’. Because of this, it is recommended to memorize なら purely as ‘were’, rather than the ‘if’ interpretation that is usually attached to it.

Examples

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    しのぶさんはとても()(おそ)れている。(まん)(いち)一滴(いってき)でも()()ようものなら気絶(きぜつ)してしまうはずだ。

    Shinobu is completely terrified of blood. If she were to see even one drop of it by chance, she would faint for sure.

    ブラッド・ピットに出逢(であ)おうものなら()んでしまう。

    If I were to run into Brad Pitt, I would die.

    秘密(ひみつ)()()けようものなら彼女(かのじょ)はすぐに(ほか)(やつ)らにしゃべってしまうだろう。

    If you happen to tell her a secret, she will quickly spill it to others.

    (まん)(いち)このプロジェクトが失敗(しっぱい)しようものなら我々(われわれ)()わりだ。

    If this project were to fail, we'd be finished.

    うっかり(かれ)のお菓子(かし)()べようものなら、きっと、ものすごく(かれ)にしかられるはずだ。

    If you were to go and eat his sweets, you would be scolded for sure.

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    • A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar

      Page 728

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