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Boku-ga kōchō-dattara

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Boku-ga kōchō-dattara (If I were the principal of a school)

Situation 1: At home, Mitsuo sees his little sister, Mariko, doing her summer-holiday homework.

光男: 夏休みに宿題なんか出したら、「休み」じゃないよなあ。ぼくが校長だったら、宿題のない学校にする。

まり子: ふうん、お兄ちゃんが校長だったらいいのにな。

Mitsuo: Natsuyasumi-ni shukudai-nanka dashitara, “yasumi”-ja nai-yo-nā. Boku-ga kōchō-dattara, shukudai-no nai gakkō-ni suru.

Mariko: Fūn, o-niichan-ga kōcoho-dattara ii-noni-na.

Mitsuo: With all these assignments during the summer vacation, it’s not really a vacation anymore. If I were the principal of a school, I’d make it so there was no homework during summer vacation.

Mariko: Hmm, I wish you were our principal.

Today, we will introduce how to express a fantasy, using the subjunctive mood (if-sentence). In Situation 1, Mitsuo is a high school student, not the principal of a school, and imagines what he would do if he were in that position. In order to express this kind of fantasy, the pattern X (noun/adjective) だったら, Y(phrase) is used. In order to express a feeling of being sorry or regret for not X, のに is added at the end of Y. The negative pattern of this phrase is Xじゃなかったら, Y. The adverb もし is sometimes put on the top of the sentence.

Situation 2: The classmates are talking about the baseball game they participated in yesterday.

健太: あの時、広がホームランを打たなかったら、うちのチームは戸山高校に負けていただろうね。

光男: うん。広がホームランを打ってくれたから、あんな強い高校に勝てたんだなあ。

Kenta: Ano toki, Hiroshi-ga hōmuran-wo utanakattara, uchi-no chiimu-wa Toyama-kōkō-ni makete-ita-darō-ne.

Mitsuo: Un. Hiroshi-ga hōmuran-wo utte-kureta-kara, anna tsuyoi kōkō-ni kateta-n-da-nā.

Kenta: If Hiroshi hadn’t hit a home run when he did, our team would have been beaten by Toyama High School.

Mitsuo: Yeah, because Hiroshi hit a home run we were able to beat such a strong team.

Mitsuo’s sentence in Situation 2 is describing something that happened in the past. Kenta uses the subjunctive mood (if-sentence) to express the same fact, in order to emphasize it, assuming that X had not happened. The expressions that follow Xていたら should be Yだったろう(would have been Y)/かもしれない(might have been Y)/はずだ(should have been Y), etc.

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Sere and his girlfriend Yuri are talking to each other on a date.

ゆり: ねえ、私(わたし)たち、一度(いちど)も結婚(けっこん)とか、将来(しょうらい)の話(はなし)、したことがないよね?

セレ: あ…、じつは、いつも考(かんが)えているんだけど、言(い)い出(だ)せなくて…。あのう、ゆりは、ぼくと結婚してくれる気持(きも)ちはあるの?

ゆり: もちろんよ!

セレ: それで、もしかしたら、将来、ぼくの国(くに)で暮(く)らしてくれる?

ゆり: あ…、もし私が一人(ひとり)っ子(こ)じゃなかったら、「もちろんよ」って言えるんだけど…。セレは日本(にほん)に永住(えいじゅう)するつもりはないの?

セレ: もしぼくが長男(ちょうなん)じゃなかったら、そうできるんだけど…。

ゆり: そうか、やっぱりだめなんだ。セレになんか会(あ)わなかったら、こんなつらい思(おも)いは、しなくてすんだのに。

セレ: ぼくは、ゆりに会わなかったら、どんなにつまらない人生(じんせい)だったろうって思うよ。ゆりがいるから、生(い)きている意味(いみ)があるんだ。

ゆり: そうよね。きっと、なにかいい方法(ほうほう)があるね。

セレ: うん、こんなに愛(あい)し合っているんだから!

Yuri: Hey, we’ve never talked about marriage or our future, have we?

Sere: Oh, actually, I’m often thinking about it but didn’t know how to bring it up. Well, do you want to marry me, Yuri?

Yuri: Of course, yes!

Sere: Then, by any chance, would you live in my home country in the future?

Yuri: Well, if I wasn’t an only child, I would say “of course.” Do you have any intention of living in Japan permanently?

Sere: If I wasn’t the eldest son, I could.

Yuri: I see. If I had never met you, I would have felt so sad.

Sere: If I hadn’t met you, Yuri, how worthless my life would be! Being with you gives my life meaning.

Yuri: I agree. Perhaps we’ll be able to find a solution.

Sere: Yeah, since we love each other and we’re committed.