Wednesday, February 13, 2019

yokattara よかったら

In Japanese, yokattara よかったら, also spelled yokattara 良かったら, means "if that's alright with you," or "if you'd like," "if you feel like it," "if you want, "etc. It's generally used when you offer or propose something to someone, to ask whether they're okay with it.

Grammatically, yokattara よかったら is the tara-form of yoi よい, and of ii いい, so it's literally "if good."

An example of よかったら in Japanese used the manga Gabriel DropOut.
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, Gavuriiru Doroppuauto ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 27)


To understand how yokattara よかったら works, let's see a different i-adjective in tara-form so we can compare.
  • samui 寒い
  • samukattara 寒かったら
    If it's cold... (wear some warm clothes or something.)

Following the same pattern:
  • ii いい
    yoi よい
  • yokattara よかったら
    If it's good... (then let's do this.)
    If it's alright... (then let's do this.)
    If it's okay... (then let's do this.)

It's only a bit odd because, although ii いい means literally "good," there are cases where it means whether something is "alright" to do, if it's "okay" to do, which is the meaning yokattara derives from: if it's okay with you, then let's do this.


For reference, some examples of yokattara in action.

A lot of times yokattara is accompanied by kudasai ください, which means "please," kind of, in which case the verb must be in te-form.
  • yokattara mite kudasai
    If it's good, please watch [this].
    If it's alright with you, please watch [this].
    If you feel like it, please watch [this.]
    • mite 見て
      (the te-form of)
    • miru 見る
      To see. To watch.

The word yokattara is often used with the verb kuru 来る, "to come."
  • yokattara asobi ni kite kudasai
    If you feel like it, come play [with me].
  • yokattara mata kite ne
    If you feel like it, come [here] again.

A common use of yokattara is with means of communication. They all pretty much mean, "please contact me if you'd like."
  • yokattara renraku kudasai
    If you'd like, contact [me].
    Contact [me] if you like.
  • yokattara renraku-saki koukan shimasenka?
    If you'd like, won't you exchange contact addresses [with me]?
    • renraku-saki 連絡先
      Contact address. Can mean a phone number, etc. too. Contact point, way, form, really.
  • yokattara denwa shite
    If you'd like, call [me]. (by phone.)
  • yokattara meeru kudasai
    If you'd like, [send me] an e-mail.


The phrase moshi yokattara もしよかったら is a more proper way to ask if someone wants to do something. Basically, moshi もし is the word that actually means "if" in Japanese, while the tara-form is a conditional in the grammatical sense.

So there's no difference in meaning between using moshi and not using it:
  • moshi yokattara
    If it's good with you.
    If you'd like to.
    If you feel like it.
    If you want.

Then why do people use moshi at all? That's because the tara is at the end of the conditional, while moshi goes at the start. If you have a long phrase, it's better you don't wait until the last moment to show whether it's a question or not.
  • insutanto raamen de yokatta
    Good thing it was an instant ramen!
  • ra
    • This totally changed the meaning of the phrase!
    • With yokatta よかった it means a relief, but yokattara よかったら means a question.
  • insutanto raamen de yokattara
    If you're okay with instant ramen...
    • That's why the moshi.
  • moshi insutanto raa...
    If instant ra...[men is alright, then...]
    • You don't need to get to the tara to know it's a question.


The phrase watashi de yokattara 私でよかったら is used to ask, literally, "if me is okay, [let's do it]." In other words, something is to be done, the question is with whom is it going to be done. Is it okay to do it with me? Or is it better if it was with someone else?

Of course, other first person pronouns work too:
  • watashi de yokattara 私でよかったら
    boku de yokattara 僕でよかったら
    ore de yokattara 俺でよかったら
    (same thing.)
なにか悩み事かい? いえ その・・・ もし私でよかったら相談にのるよ 本当ですか!? quote from manga Gabriel DropOut ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 27)
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, Gavuriiru Doroppuauto ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 27)
  • nanika nayamigoto kai?
    "Is something a worry-thing?"
    • Is something worrying you?
    • Are you troubled by something?
    • nayamu 悩む
      To worry.
    • koto
      Thing. Something. (it becomes goto in the compound noun because of rendaku 連濁.)
    • kai かい
      Same as ka か: a question particle.
  • ie sono...
    いえ その・・・
    No, [I mean]...
    • Here, sono is used as an interjection.
  • moshi watashi de yokattara
    soudan ni noru yo

    "If me is good," [I'll] give [you] advice.
    • The girl seems worried about something and in need of advice. The question is whether "me" is the best person to give "you" advice. After all, it's impolite for strangers to give advice about your private life.
    • If it's alright with you, you can talk to "me."
    • If you're fine with talking about it with "me" (as opposed to with someone else), then let's do it.
  • hontou desu-ka!?


The phrase yokattara douzo よかったらどうぞ is often used to offer someone something, like food, tea, etc. It means, basically, "if you'd like, you may."

Note that douzo どうぞ alone can be used to tell people "all yours," or "here you go," or "you may pass," or "here, you may do it," etc. It's used in a sense of permitting the listener to advance.

どうぞ コト・・・ ゴク quote from manga Gabriel DropOut ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 17)
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, Gavuriiru Doroppuauto ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 17)
  • Context: customer orders coffee. The owner of the coffee shop puts the coffee on the table.
  • douzo どうぞ
    [Here you go. You may drink it now.]
  • koto... コト・・・
    *thumping sound of putting the cup on the table.* (onomatopoeia.)
  • The customer takes the coffee.
  • goku ゴク

The difference between douzo and yokattara douzo is that douzo is usually used in response: the listener says "excuse me" or something similar to ask for something, and you say douzo to say they're free to advance. Meanwhile, yokattara douzo is used in invitation: maybe you don't want to, but if you want to, you're free to do it.


The phrase yokattara kite hoshii よかったら来てほしい means "I'd like you to come, so if want to come, please come."

It's kind of complex because in this phrase we have two words that refer to people's wishes:
  • yokattara kite よかったら来て
    If you'd like to, come.
  • kite hoshii 来てほしい
    I want you to come.

In one side, we have yokattara which we use to ask people whether they want to do something by asking if they're okay with it, if they'd like to do it, etc. In the other side, literally, we have hoshii ほしい which can be used to say "I want you to do this."

So whenever we have yokattara... te-hoshii, we have a phrase that means both "I want you to do this" and "if you'd like to, do this" at the same time.


The phrase yokattara naka yoku shite kudasai よかったら仲良くしてください means "if you'd like to, please become friends." In other words: the speaker is asking the listener to consider becoming friends with them or someone else.

Now, the problem of this phrase isn't yokattara—that part is easy—the problem is this naka-yoku shite kudasai. To understand it, let's go step by step:
  • naka ga ii 仲がいい
    "Relationship is good." (literally.)
    On good terms. Friends. Buddies.
  • something ni suru 〇〇にする
    To make it so it becomes "something." (whenever suru comes after an adverb, it's like the forced version of naru.)
  • kirei 綺麗
  • kirei ni suru 綺麗にする
    To make it so it becomes "kirei."
    To make it pretty.
    To make it clean. To clean it.
  • naka yoku suru 仲良くする
    To make it so it becomes "naka ii."
    To make it so it becomes a good relationship.
    To make it so you become on good terms, you become friends, buddies, etc.


As one would expect, yokattara also appears as the tara-form in set phrases and expressions that end with ii いい:
  • un ga ii 運がいい
    Luck is good.
  • un ga yokattara kateru
    If luck is good, [you] can win.
    If lucky, [you] can win..


In Japanese, the following words have pretty much the same meaning as yokattara:
  • yokeraba よければ
    (ba-form of yoi よい)
  • yoroshikattara よろしかったら
    (tara-form of yoroshii よろしい)
  • yoroshikereba よろしければ
    (ba-form of yoroshii)

The basic difference between these is the level of politeness. The word yokereba tends to be more polite than yokattara, and yoroshikereba even more polite. Generally, people use yokattara normally and yokereba in more formal situations.


The phrase iya nara 嫌なら, "if you dislike it," is kind of like an antonym for yokattara. While yokattara is used to invite people to do things, the phrase iya nara is used to persuade people:
  • iya nara dete ike 嫌なら出て行け
    If you don't like it, leave.
    If you don't like it, go away.
  • sore ga iya nara tatakae それが嫌なら戦え
    If you don't like that, fight.

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