Friday, March 1, 2019

~といい, -to-ii - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, to ii といい means literally "if [something then] good." It's used to say something would be good if it happened, or if it were. It's the combination of the conditional particle to と, plus the i-adjective ii いい.

Don't mistake this for to iimasu といいます, which means "[something] is called [something]," or "my name is [something]."

In particular, if to ii repeated, then it's likely __ to ii __ to ii ~と言い~と言い instead.

Example of -to-ii ~といい used in Japanese.
Manga: "Assassination Classroom," Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1)

Grammar

Basically, whatever comes before the conditional particle to と is the condition: it's what needs to be true. And if it's true, then it's "good," it's ii いい.
  • yuushou suru to ii 優勝するといい
    If victorious: good.

In English, we'd naturally translate this with an "would be." For example:
  • It would be good if victorious.
  • It would be good if you won.

In a way, it can be similar to how -te-yokatta ~てよかった works. The word yokatta, meaning "was good," is the past form of ii. When -te-yokatta shows up, sometimes it's a regretful way to refer to a hypothetical scenario that didn't happen, but would have been good if it had happened.
  • yuushou shite yokatta
    優勝してよかった
    1. It's good thing I won. (because I did win.)
    2. It would have been good if I had won. (but unfortunately I didn't win.)

When to ii is used after a verb, it can be interpreted in two ways depending on context:
  1. The speaker is simply stating what he wishes would happen.
  2. The speaker is advising someone that if they did something that would be good.

The pattern to ii can also be used with i-adjectives. For example:
  • tanoshii to ii 楽しいといい
    If fun: good.

With na-adjectives and nouns, you use the copula da だ before to と. This happens because the na な after na-adjectives is an attributive copula, and you need something in the predicative before to と, hence you use the predicative copula da だ.
  • shiawase na jinsei
    幸せな人生
    Happy life.
  • shiawase na jinsei da to ii
    幸せな人生だといい
    If is happy life: good.
    It would be good if it were a happy life.
    It would be good if [he led] a happy life.
    • jinsei 人生
      Life. (noun.)
  • shiawase da to ii
    幸せだといい
    If is happy: good.
    It would be good if it were happy.
    It would be good if [he] were happy.
    • shiawase 幸せ
      Happy. (na-adjective.)

Beware that when to ii といい comes right after a noun without the copula, it's a nominal conjugation (ren'youkei form) of the verb iu いう, "to say," coming after the quoting particle to と instead. For example:
  • kore ga jinsei to ii
    これが人生といい
    Calling this "life." (i.e. this is called life.)
    (act of) calling this "life."
  • Tanaka to iimasu 田中といいます
    [I'm] Tanaka.
    [I'm] called Tanaka.
    • iimasu いいます
      Polite form of iu いう, which is the masu suffix attached to the ren'youkei.

da to ii na だといいな

The phrase da to ii na だといいな is sometimes used as an expression to say "it would be good if that happened," or "I wish that would be the case," or something like that.

Literally, it's the predicative copula da だ, plus the conditional particle to と, plus the i-adjective ii いい, plus the sentence-ending particle na な. We've already covered the first three things in this article, so what's important is this na な.

This particle has the nuance of "I think?" It's used when the speaker is expressing his opinion or conclusion about something.

This is slightly different from saying da to ii ne だといいね. Although similar to na な, the ne ね particle is more strongly about asking for agreement of the listener.

One difference is that you may see da to ii na written in thought bubbles, when a character is thinking alone about something that would be good, but da to ii ne requires a listener.
  • da to ii na どといいな
    [That'd be] good, I think.
    • I hope you agree with me.
  • da to ii ne だといいね
    [That'd be] good, wouldn't it?
    • Come on, nod or something!

Examples

殺せるといいですねぇ

殺せるといいですねぇ 卒業までに quote from manga Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1)
Manga: "Assassination Classroom," Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1)
  • Context: a tentacle monster destroys the moon and will destroy the Earth next year unless his class of assassin students manage to kill him before then.
  • koroseru to ii desu nee
    殺せるといいですねぇ
    If able to kill: good.
    • It would be good if you managed to kill me, don't you think?
    • koroseru 殺せる
      Able to kill.
      (potential form of...)
    • korosu 殺す
      To kill.
  • sotsugyou made ni
    卒業までに
    Until graduation. (i.e. within one year.)

宿に泊まるといい

「ライアンどの。たたかいで キズついたら まちにもどり やどに とまるといい。 quote from game Dragon Quest IV ドラゴンクエストIV
Game: Dragon Quest IV, Doragon Kuesto Foo ドラゴンクエストIV
  • Raian-dono. tatakai de kizu tsuitara
    machi ni modori yado ni tomaru to ii.

    ライアンどの。たたかいで キズついたら
    まちにもどり やどに とまるといい
    Ryan-dono, if [you] get injured in battle
    it's good if [you] return to town and stay at an inn.
    • In classic JRPGs, sleeping at an inn heals injuries. So it's good for you to go there and get the damage healed.

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