Every-so-often Grammar/Phrase/Word

It's hard to be humble when you're perfect.

-ば よかった (-ba yokatta)

-ば よかった (-ba yokatta)
Basic meaning: wish I/someone had done ~
Comments: A phrase which expresses the subject's (usually the speaker's) regret
Key sentence:

sensei ni kikeba yokatta.
I wish I had asked the teacher.

Formation: V-cond ば よかった
  • 行けばよかった (ikeba yokatta) (= I wish I'd gone.)
Additional examples:
  1. あの本を読めばよかった。
    ano hon o yomeba yokatta.
    I wish I'd read that book.
  2. ああ、もっと英語を勉強しておけばよかったなあ。
    aa, motto eigo o benkyou site okeba yokatta naa.
    Oh, I wish I'd studied English harder!
  3. 田中さんは日本へ行けばよかったね。
    tanaka-san wa nihon e ikeba yokatta ne.
    I wish Mr. Tanaka had gone to Japan, don't you?
Usage notes:
  1. V-cond ば よかった (V-cond ba yokatta) is an expression which means "I wish I/someone had done ~". It literally means "It would have been good if ~ had been done."
  2. When there is no subject, the first person is implied. When the subject is someone other than the first person, the meaning is that you wish that person had done something. To express that somebody else wishes he had done something, use the -ばよかったと思っている (-ba yokatta to omotte iru) form. Compare the following sentences:
    • ビルは日本へ行けばよかった。
      biru wa nihon e ikeba yokatta.
      I wish Bill had gone to Japan.
    • ビルは日本へ行けばよかったと思っている。
      biru wa nihon e ikeba yokatta to omotte iru.
      Bill wishes he'd gone to Japan. (lit. Bill thinks it would have been good if he had gone to Japan.)
  3. This expression is often used with exclamatory words, such as ああ (aa) and the sentence-final partical なあ (naa), as in example sentence 2.


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