901 - も~ば、~も

JLPT N3: も~ば、~も (both...and...)

Remember our N4 lesson on 〜も〜し、〜も? No? Well, before you read this lesson, it’s probably a good idea to give it a quick once over:

[NDL #729] - JLPT N4: も~し、~も

Much like that grammar point, も~ば、~も is used to emphasize two coinciding things that are either positive or negative.

The construction for this one goes a little like this:

NOUN-1 + + ( / i-adjective ければ / na-adjective なら / NOUN なら) + NOUN-2 +

Yeah... Looks nasty, right? Sorry about that. But don’t panic. Below are examples showing how to handle verbs, i-adjectives, na-adjectives, and nouns, and by the end of the lesson, you’ll know what the messed up equation-looking thing up there is all about.


First, let’s take a look at how to use this grammar with verbs:

きのう は バイト も あれば ひっこし の じゅんび も しなければならなかった ので、 とても いそがしかった です。
Yesterday I had work, and then I had to pack for my move, so I was really busy.
Literally: “yesterday + は + work + も + if (I) had + move + の + preparation + も + had to do + because (=ので), + very + was busy + です.”

To break this down, we’ve got:

バイト + + あれば, + 引っ越しの準備 +

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

NOUN-1 + + + NOUN-2 +

Making sense yet? No? No worries. Next!

(Note: If you're not sure how to conjugate verbs into ~ば form, this Bunkai Beast lesson, along with this JLPT N4 lesson, may help.)


ジム に かよいたい が、 おかね も なければ じかん も ない。
I want to start going to the gym, but I don’t have the money, let alone the time.
Literally: “gym + に + want to attend/commute + but (=が), + money + も + if (I) didn’t have + time + も + (I) don’t have.”

As a side note, the above sentence sparked something of a debate between us at NihongoShark. We were trying to work out what the nuance was in Japanese, and how to transfer that over to English. Niko pointed out that this translation sounds a bit more emphatic about how there are multiple reasons the speaker can't go to the gym. Rei mentioned that she feels that with this grammar point, there’s slightly more emphasis on the second noun in the Japanese sentence, but she couldn’t find any evidence to back it up. Then there was me, who learned this grammar point about seven years ago, never found an opportunity to use it, and promptly forgot it existed. Needless to say, I went with what they suggested... 😅

Anyways, enough of my rambling. Onwards, to the Land of Examples!


おとうさん が くれた パジャマ は サイズ も ちょうどよければ きごこち も いい。
The pajamas my dad got me fit just right and are really comfortable, too.
Literally: “father + が + gave (me) + pajamas + は + size + も + if (it) was just right + feel when wearing something + も + good.”

サイズ + + 丁度よけれ + 着心地 +

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

NOUN-1 + + i-adjective ければ + NOUN-2 +


The below sentences show that you can have more than just two nouns, too:

あの レストラン は ねだん も てごろ なら、 あじ も サービス も わるくない。
That restaurant is affordable. The food and service aren’t bad, either.
Literally: “that + restaurant + は + price + も + reasonable + なら, + flavor + も + service + も + not bad.”

値段 + + 手頃なら、+ + + サービス +

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

NOUN-1 + + na-adjective / NOUN なら + NOUN-2 + + NOUN-3 +

わたしたち は せいかく も まぎゃく なら たべもの の このみ も かんがえかた も ぜんぜん ちがう。
We have completely opposite personalities, and our favorite foods and way of thinking are totally different, too.
Literally: “we + は + personality + も + exact opposite + なら + food + の + likes / preferences + も + way of thinking + も + completely + different.”


Think you’ve grasped it so far? Awesome. Time to throw a curveball all up in this lesson.

This grammar point isn’t just used for emphasizing how positive or negative something is. It can also be used when describing two different aspects of the same thing. Okay, I know it sounds confusing. Maybe it’ll make more sense after looking at the below examples:

いぬ に は いろいろな しゅるい が あります。 ちいさい の も いれば、 おおきい の も います。
There are all kinds of different dogs. Some are small, and others are big.
Literally: “dogs + に + は + various + types / varieties + が + there are. + small + の + も + if there are, + big + の + も + there are.”

いい こと も あれば わるい こと も ある。 それ が じんせい というものだ。
Everyone experiences both happiness and hardship. That’s what it means to be alive.
Literally: “good + things + も + if there are + bad + things + も + there are. + that + が + life + というものだ.”


👑 Rule Time 👑

Okay, here’s the boring stuff you’re supposed to remember, but real people wouldn’t actually care if you slipped up on (other than those goshdarn JLPT examiners, of course... *shakes fist at sky*).

1. BOTH things you’re talking about need to be either positive or negative. This isn’t a mix-and-match situation, folks. You wouldn’t say something like, “That restaurant isn’t affordable. The food and service aren’t bad, too.” in English, right? Same deal.

2. UNLESS you’re trying to show a contrast between similar things, like in our last two examples... In which case, it totally is that kinda situation. Basically, you’ve got things that are different, but they’re united by the One Big Thing (small dogs and big dogs are both dogs, happiness and hardship are both part of life), so they’re kinda the same thing. It does make sense...as long as you don’t think about it too hard. Like I just did. 


That’s it for this lesson! 

Just remember, when you’re learning Japanese grammar, easy points もあれば hard points もある. The important thing is to keep at it!

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