If in Chinese: Conditional Statements

"If...Then..." in Chinese with 如果...的话 & 那/就

Both grammar points today cover the same theme: “If…, then….” conditional statements in Chinese. Connectors are what linguists call “conjunctions.” The Chinese word for them is “连词 liáncí – ‘connect + word.’

They serve to connect separate thoughts and show how they are connected. Examples in English are words like “and,” “or,” “because,” etc. Chinese connectors are one of the most straightforward elements of the language to understand, so be sure not to overthink them too much :).

You’re going to hear these conditional statements all the time. Let’s understand how they work, shall we?

Sentence 1:

如果你联系上了她,请/就告诉我。 – Level 18
Rúguǒ nǐ liánxì shàng le tā, qǐng/jiù gàosù wǒ.
If you manage to reach her, please let me know.

In this sentence, 如果 (rúguǒ) sets up a condition: You make contact with her. After that, 请 (qǐng) or 就 (jiù) set up what to do if the condition is met. The only difference between the two is that “请 (qǐng)” is a bit more polite. 如果 (rúguǒ) & 要是 (yàoshi) are interchangeable in this sentence.

If in Chinese – Sentence 2:

如果你现在不能打电话的话,我们就发信息吧! – Level 20
Rúguǒ nǐ xiànzài bùnéng dǎdiànhuà de huà, wǒmen jiù fāxìnxī ba.
If you can’t make a phone call now, we’ll text.

This sentence is highly useful in today’s world of texting. 如果 (rúguǒ) (or 要是 yàoshi) set up the condition that you can’t talk on the phone, and if that condition is met then (就 jiù) you can send texts. Simple, right?

Sentence 3:

如果你是我男朋友就好了。 – Level 25
Rúguǒ nǐ shì wǒ nánpéngyǒu jiù hǎo le.
If you were my boyfriend, then all would be well.

People use this structure all the time. 如果 (rúguǒ) + Thing the speaker wants + 就好了 (jiù hǎo le). This structure is so standard that you can omit 如果 (rúguǒ) and people will still understand you. A good way to appease anyone in conversation is to say, “你开心就好 Nǐ kāixīn jiù hǎo – As long as you’re happy.” (Be careful, though! It can come across as a bit snarky if you are seen as being insincere.)

If in Chinese – Sentence 4:

(要是)睡不着的话,(就)喝一杯羊奶吧! – Level 16
(Yàoshì) shuìbùzháo de huà, (jiù) hē yībēi yángnǎi ba!
If you can’t sleep, drink a glass of goat milk.

You’ll sometimes hear people surround the condition (e.g., 睡不着 shuìbùzháo) with 要是/如果 (yàoshi/rúguǒ) & 的话 (de huà). However, you can omit either so long as one of them is present. Also, when you’re making a suggestion ending in “吧 (ba),” you can even skip the 就 (jiù)!

Sentence 5:

你要是回来(的话),我们(就)去运动吧。 – Level 19
Nǐ yàoshì huílái (de huà), wǒmen (jiù) qù yùndòng ba.
If you come back, let’s go exercise.

In our experience, you’ll hear all the variations of these conditional statements in Chinese. Some people include all elements (要是/如果…的话, 就 Yàoshi/rúguǒ…de huà, jiù) while others omit whatever they can to sound more streamlined. So long as you know that all of them are OK, you’ll do very well moving forward.

Also, don’t forget there is no such thing as “learning” grammar, it is more about acquisition. You can read more about how to acquire Chinese grammar in a natural way in this post.

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Chinese Conjunctions
15 March , 2021
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