Language | WELL SAID

It would be great if you could master 'to ii'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Hayaku ii shigoto ga mitsukaru to ii ne. (It would be great if he found a good job soon.)

Situation 1: Ms. Aoyama is talking to her senior colleague, Ms. Gray, about her out-of-work boyfriend.

青山:なかなか彼に合う仕事が見つからないんです。

グレイ:うーん、それは大変だ。早くいい仕事が見つかるといいね。

Aoyama: Naka-naka kare ni au shigoto ga mitsukaranai-n desu.

Gurei: Ūn, sore wa taihen da. Hayaku ii shigoto ga mitsukaru to ii ne.

Aoyama: He just can’t find a job that suits him.

Gray: Hmm, that’s tough. It would be great if he found a good job soon.

The structures Xといい and Xばよかったのに express a wish or hope. “X” — a verb, i-adjective or na-adjective in plain present tense — combined with “といい” suggests “one hopes X” and is mainly used in casual spoken language. The sentence’s final particle, which can be “ね” or “な(あ),” is often attached in the hopes of getting the listener’s affirmation or to stress the speaker’s feelings:

あした晴(は)れるといいなあ。

(I hope that it will be sunny tomorrow.)

When the speaker feels that X will not happen, “のに,” “けど” or “が” are attached to the pattern:

もう少(すこ)し背(せ)が高(たか)いといいのに。

(I wish I were a little taller/If only I were a little taller.)

このアパートが静(しず)かだといいんだけど。

(It’d be great if this apartment were quiet/If only this apartment were quiet.)

Situation 2: Mr. Mita arrives late to a party.

セレ:もっと早く来ればよかったのに。ごちそうはもうほとんどなくなっちゃったよ。

三田:えっ、それは残念。

Sere: Motto hayaku kureba yokatta noni. Gochisō wa mō hotondo nakunatchatta yo.

Mita: E’, sore wa zannen.

Sere: You should have come earlier. The food’s almost all gone.

Mita: Oh, that’s a shame.

When “X” is a verb, i-adjective or na-adjective in its conditional form, combining it with “ばよかったのに” suggests “if only X,” and is used when the speaker expresses a regret, lament or criticism that things did not work out:

あのとき、すぐに歯医者(はいしゃ)に行(い)けばよかったのに。

(If only you’d gone to the dentist immediately at that time.)

While Sere used the Xばよかったのに structure in Situation 2, he could have also said Xとよかったのに or Xらよかったのに as well.

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 1.

グレイ:青山(あおやま)さんも彼(かれ)のことで苦労(くろう)してるね。

青山:ええ…。あのとき、彼に出会(であ)わなければよかった。ときどきそう思(おも)うんです。

グレイ:あのときって、いつ?

青山:私(わたし)が一人(ひとり)でインドネシアを旅行(りょこう)していたときです。

グレイ:へえ。青山さん、一人旅(ひとりたび)をしていたのね。

青山:ええ。前(まえ)の彼氏(かれし)と別(わか)れて、そのことを忘(わす)れるために旅行に行ったんですが、そのとき、今(いま)の彼と出会って…。彼は私にとっても優(やさ)しくしてくれたんです。

グレイ:それで仲良(なかよ)くなったわけね。

青山:ええ。またあのころの優しい彼に戻(もど)ってくれるといいなあと思うんですけど。

グレイ:今はあまり優しくないの?

青山:そうですね、お金(かね)がなくなると、私にお金を借(か)りに来(き)て…。

グレイ:うーん、それは別れたほうがいいんじゃない?

青山:そんなこと、できません! [たちさる]

グレイ:ああ、青山さんが早(はや)く現実(げんじつ)に気(き)づくといいなあ。

Gray: You’re having a lot of trouble with him, Ms. Aoyama.

Aoyama: Yes… I wish I hadn’t met him at that time. I sometimes think that.

Gray: When was “that time”?

Aoyama: The time I was traveling alone in Indonesia.

Gray: Huh. You went on a trip by yourself then?

Aoyama: Yes. When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, I went on a trip to forget about it, and that’s when I met my current boyfriend. He was so kind to me.

Gray: So that’s why you started to get along.

Aoyama: Yes. I hope he goes back to being as thoughtful as he was then.

Gray: He isn’t so thoughtful now?

Aoyama: That’s right. When he runs out of money, he comes to me to borrow money.

Gray: Hmm, wouldn’t it be better for you to break up with him?

Aoyama: I could never do something like that! [Goes away]

Gray: Ah, if only Ms. Aoyama would wake up to reality soon.

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