# Future conditionals with the reversed chronological order

Let's suppose I need to convey the following idea: If you do X in the future, I do Y in the future, with one important subtlety: Y is physically done earlier than X is.

I am blushing as I feel I may have confused you by saying such an apparently illogical thing, but I do not know how to say it better, so kindly let me give you a few examples of some XY pairs illustrating the concept:

(a) X = to visit me in Japan, Y = to help you get a Japanese visa

(b) X = to try sashimi, Y = to buy fish and slice it for you

(c) X = to play Go with me, Y = to explain you the rules of Go

I humbly hope that you get the idea despite my clumsy explanation. The idea is that here the logical order and chronological order are mutually opposite. You do X after I do Y, but I do Y because you will do X, and both X and Y are in the future.

If I naively try to translate such ideas to your wonderful language just by using the standard Russian future conditional forms intended for the natural chronological order, I get this:

Set 1

(a) Если ты приедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить визу Японии.

(b) Если ты попробуешь сашими, я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя.

(c) Если ты поиграешь со мной в го, я объясню тебе правила го.

Or this:

Set 2

(a) Если ты будешь ехать ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить визу Японии.

(b) Если ты будешь пробовать сашими, я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя.

(c) Если ты будешь играть со мной в го, я объясню тебе правила го.

How do all these six sentences sound to you?

I would like to humbly ask you how you would translate the above three ideas to Russian taking the following three wishes of mine into account:

(1) Please refrain from using expressions like если ты решишь приехать, если тебе будет угодно приехать, если ты соберешься приехать, because решить приехать and приехать are two principally different things. You see, if you decide to visit me in Japan, you still well may change your decision. And this is why I want to make the conditional be not about deciding or intending, but about actually coming to Japan. That's a principal thing. The idea is this: If it is absolutely certain that you visit me in Japan in the future, then I help you get a Japanese visa, because I am a girl with self-respect who does not want to spend her time preparing many documents and visiting authorities if there is a chance of you not coming to Japan. The idea is that I am prepared to help you get a visa in return for you visiting me later. It is a deal implying utmost commitment to visit me. I am afraid that using если ты решишь приехать may lead to huge misunderstanding. The same applies to the above examples with sashimi and Go.

(2) I want the conditionals to be as concise, neutral, and naturally sounding as possible, as well as exerting no pressure and not looking official or demanding in any way. I strongly dislike variants like если ты точно приедешь or при условии что ты приедешь, because I do not want to sound like a strict school teacher demanding something. I want to sound like a friend offering an opportunity.

(3) I want to see an elegant universal tool rather than ad hoc bulky solutions like я тогда заранее для этой цели помогу. In general, I strive to learn new tools in order to get able to express ideas more effectively than I currently can.

I guess that the naive translations suggested by me above are at least understandable, because the chronological order is already obvious from the very nature of X and Y, but how should I translate such ideas to Russian if X and Y are such that it is not logically obvious from them by themselves what is done first, X or Y? In other words, how can I grammatically make clear that the inverse chronological order is implied?

Let us consider this specific example:

X = to come to my apartment, Y = to borrow a really nice goban from my neighbor.

(A goban is a board used to play Go and Gomoku.)

In this situation, how do you make it abundantly clear in Russian that the inverse chronological order is implied? Could you show me your translation variants?

In modern English there is a universal tool for that (see, for example, this Reference):

If you will come to my apartment, I will borrow a really nice goban from my neighbor.

In this sentence, the first will (i.e., the one in the subordinate clause) reverses the chronological order, or at least this is how it is perceived by native English speakers, especially when the first word will is stressed. Without the first will the sentence implies that after you come to my apartment, I will go to my neighbor to borrow the goban. With the first will the sentence implies that I will go to my neighbor to borrow the goban well before you come to my apartment.

I recall a famous message by Aldrich Ames, an American who spied for your country:

If you will meet at B on 1 Oct, pls signal North ... (Source)

In this message, he asked his KGB partners to leave a sign at the location called North to confirm that they would meet him in Bogota. How do you translate Ames' message to Russian to reflect the inverse chronological order?

My university textbooks give no clue how to formulate future conditionals with the reversed chronological order in Russian, and I tried to figure it out myself by searching in the Internet, but found no clues whatsoever, which made me puzzled because such conditionals are everyday routine. What do you have in your arsenal to effectively express such things without resorting to ad hoc explanations about the purposes or timings of X and Y?

Since future conditionals with the inverse chronological order are everyday routine, I really want to sort it out and am humbly looking forward to reading your enlightening responses. I am equally happy to read responses in English and in Russian, whatever you find more convenient for yourself or useful for the objectives of this wonderful forum.

• your messages are a case in point of famous Japanese humbleness and 敬語 May 1 '19 at 21:24
• do not apologize for anything, Mitsuko, this is a community where everyone is interested in helping you learning Russian.
– shabunc
May 3 '19 at 13:13
• @shabunc i think this is a Japanese style of addressing strangers and expressing a sense of indebtedness, a cultural thing May 3 '19 at 21:31

The Set 2 is the right way of expressing this relationship.

But the analytic (imperfective) future tense here has undertone of intent rather than actual activity. So although you strive to avoid such surrogates as решишь / соберёшься (+ perfective & imperfecive), не против / готов (+ mainly perfective) and the like, what you end up having is exactly that only expressed by grammactical rather than lexical means.

(Mind that если/как будет угодно is an antiquated expression belonging to a higher register, a rarity in daily conversations).

One very common example of this connotation at work is the question about desire to eat something. In an eatery we may ask our companion Ты что будешь? - What would you like to have? (literally What are you going to eat?) or at home Пюре будешь на ужин? - Would you like/Do you mind mashed potatos for the dinner? (literally Are you going to eat mashed potatos for the dinner?).

в) Интенциональный компонент

Высказывалось мнение, что конструкции аналитического будущего в большей степени, чем будущему СВ, присущ интенциональный компонент (см. проверку этого утверждения на корпусном материале в [Чуйкова 2014: 26ff.]). В [Рассудова 1968/1982: 79–80] отмечено, что он особенно отчетливо проявляется в вопросах ко 2-му лицу, ср.:

(13) – Что будешь пить? Я огляделся в растерянности, пытаясь понять, где он ухитряется прятать напитки. [В. Белоусова. Второй выстрел (2000)] – ≈ Чего хочешь выпить?

Ср. менее уместное в контексте вопроса о намерении адресата: Чего выпьешь?

и в условных конструкциях, ср.:

(14) Если он будет уходить <≈ соберется, захочет>, вызовите меня! ≠ Если он уйдет, вызовите меня! (пример из [Рассудова 1968/1982: 80])

В принципе в семантику будущего времени всегда входит либо компонент намерения, либо компонент предсказания (эпистемической гипотезы), см. [Dahl 1985; 2000]; [Bybee et al. 1994].

rusgram.ru: Аналитическая конструкция будущего времени, Основные употребления

The future tense in the Set 1 framed with perfective verbs doesn't convey this meaning. Instead the sentences sound illogical where conditional relationship between clauses is turned on its head.

The conditional logic of the Set 1 could be fixed by swapping the clauses

(a) Я помогу тебе получить визу Японии японскую визу, если ты приедешь ко мне в Японию.

(b) Я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя, если ты попробуешь сашими.

(c) Я объясню тебе правила го, если ты со мной (в него) поиграешь.

In this case the content of the 2nd clause serves as a condition under which the content of the 1st clause is possible provided that the action of the 2nd clause will necessarily occur after that of the 1st one. This aspect can be more clearly expressed by adding an adverbial complement of time после этого after если

(a) Я помогу тебе получить визу Японии японскую визу, если (после этого) ты приедешь ко мне в Японию.

(b) Я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя, если (после этого) ты попробуешь сашими.

(c) Я объясню тебе правила го, если (после этого) ты со мной (в него) поиграешь.

Here we're talking actual activity and not just intent.

As for the sentence

If you will meet at B on 1 Oct, pls signal North

i agree with tum_'s Upd3 with preference for `состоится`

In it clauses reversal isn't necessary, probably due to the use of different verb forms in each of them which reduces chances of misconstruing the implied sequence of events.

• You say: "The Set 2 is the right way of expressing this relationship." I am so much confused because I just performed a Google search to find phrases similar to Set 2 and found the following statement by your president: "Если они будут выдавать гражданство россиянам, а мы в России будем давать гражданство украинцам, то постепенно мы придем к общему искомому результату, о чем я и сказал." He uses exactly the same construction as in Set 2, but implies the natural chronological order! I am at a loss... May 2 '19 at 16:25
• You also say that the imperfective future tense has an "undertone of intent", but where is this "undertone of intent" in Mr. Putin's statement? May 2 '19 at 16:26
• I want a universal grammar construction used EXCLUSIVELY for the inverse chronological order. A universal grammar construction that makes it abundantly clear by itself that the chronological order is inverse, and does not require any further clarifications like затем, после этого, and so on. Is there any such construction in Russian? What about this: "если придешь ко мне, я беру доску у соседа"? Does choosing беру (present tense) instead of возьму (future tense) do the trick? May 2 '19 at 16:27
• @Mitsuko i'm afraid you'll have to give up or resort to using the suggested patterns, постепенно works when there's a need to explicitly convey meaning of gradual process, if the process isn't supposed to be gradual постепенно is useless, in and of itself it doesn't indicate tense, so all in all you have 3 viable workable options 1) Если будешь носить свитер, (то) я тебе его свяжу or 2) Я свяжу тебе свитер, (только) если ты будешь его носить or 3) Я свяжу тебе свитер, если ты наденешь (perf) его на работу May 4 '19 at 10:28

Для разнообразия напишу по-русски с английскими вставками.

Боюсь, что `an elegant universal tool` для подобных конструкций в русском языке не существует. Как правило, используются те самые дополнительные уточняющие глаголы, которые вы нам "запрещаете" применять вашим параграфом (1).

И от выбора таких глаголов, порядка слов и, при устной речи, интонации/логического ударения будет зависеть, звучите ли вы как "строгая учительница" и пр.

upd5: Абзац внизу частично потерял актуальность после того как вы более подробно раскрыли ваши "жизненные установки" в комментариях к другим ответам. Но только частично, поэтому пока оставляю.

Честно говоря, мне кажется, что некоторые из ваших условий (the `three wishes`) чересчур строги и, в какой-то мере, бессмысленны. Потому что, как бы вы ни старались максимально точно выразить все важные для вас нюансы, другой человек всё равно может понять вас неправильно :) И особенно человек другой (в данном случае не японской) культуры. Очевидно также, что его/её восприятие ваших слов будет зависеть от того, насколько хорошо он вас знает.

upd5: rephrased: Попробую дать свой вариант выбора из ваших Set 1, Set 2 с некоторыми поправками, но не выходя за рамки "заданных граничных условий (1),(2),(3)"): Слова в скобках можно и даже желательно опустить.

(a) Если (ты) при поедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить (японскую) визу.

(b) Если (ты) будешь пробовать сашими, я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее (для тебя).

(c) Если (ты) будешь играть со мной в го, я объясню тебе правила (го).

upd1: Хочется добавить, что все эти варианты звучат для меня слегка ненатурально, и это во многом именно из-за наложенных вами ограничений. Они звучат, как фразы из иностранного учебника по русскому языку, в реальной жизни так обычно не говорят.

upd4: А теперь попробуем представить, как это звучало бы в реальной жизни, между двумя, ну скажем, приятелями, носителями русского (закроем глаза на бессмыслицу из-за упоминания японских реалий в этом случае):

(a) Приезжай в гости, с визой я помогу(, если что).

(b) Сашими будешь? Могу купить рыбу и приготовить.

(c) Хочешь, сыграем в Го? Правила я объясню.

Вот примерно так это может звучать по-русски, хотя интонацию я подробно расписать не берусь, а она здесь важна.

По поводу: `If you will meet at B on 1 Oct, pls signal North ...`:

upd3: In the context given by the source I would translate as:

`Если встреча в Б. 1 окт возможна|состоится - сообщите|дайте знать через "Север" ...`

upd6: where I will try to comment on this particular query:

`I got confused about something. You offer this variant: "Если будешь пробовать сашими, я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя." I just searched similar phrases in Google and found the following statement by your president: "Если они будут выдавать гражданство россиянам, а мы в России будем давать гражданство украинцам, то постепенно мы придем к общему искомому результату, о чем я и сказал." How is it that you and Mr. Putin use exactly the same grammatical forms but your chronological order is inverse and his chronological order is natural? Who made a mistake - you or Mr. Putin?`

As already pointed out by @БаянКупи-ка, the grammatical forms here are not exactly the same. They might be the same in your definition of what grammatical forms are but I find such a definition, shall I say, voluntarily restrictive and I do not share it. ^) By your definition here I mean that you seem to focus on verb forms only (or mostly), ignoring or at least underestimating everything that's around them.

..OK, I'll leave the "grammatical forms" alone because you're right - forms are forms, instead I'll be using the term "grammatical instruments", which implies this larger scale that I'm after..

To focus on verb forms is a mistake, at least in Russian, because "everything that's around" can be there for a reason, it can contribute to the meaning and, in some cases, can radically change the meaning of a sentence or a phrase.

Indeed, the chosen order of subordinate clauses ending with `то постепенно мы придем к..` is the direct indicator of what follows what in this sentence, while we have nothing of this kind in the "сашими" example.

At the same time, the "сашими" one cannot be called 'wrong' either, it's just a bit clumsy, that's all. However, in this case the main reason why it is unambiguous is the fact that it just can't logically be understood any other way (as you mentioned in your original question).

I have unfortunately run out of time writing all this, so I have to post this, although I don't feel like I said all I planned to say ;)

• Thank you so much, I got confused about something. You offer this variant: "Если будешь пробовать сашими, я куплю рыбу и нарежу ее для тебя." I just searched similar phrases in Google and found the following statement by your president: "Если они будут выдавать гражданство россиянам, а мы в России будем давать гражданство украинцам, то постепенно мы придем к общему искомому результату, о чем я и сказал." How is it that you and Mr. Putin use exactly the same grammatical forms but your chronological order is inverse and his chronological order is natural? Who made a mistake - you or Mr. Putin? May 2 '19 at 16:47
• That's a good question :) No one. But my, which is actually your, phrase sounds clumsy, as I pointed out in the comment and I would never put it this way. However, since under the conditions you imposed we only have a choice between `будешь пробовать` and `попробуешь`, the former is preferred. Hmm, re-read my answer and I can see it's not quite clear that "my variants" are actually "my variants of choices from your Set 1 and Set 2" - sorry for the confusion. I'll address this again later but it's been a long day for me, so - later..
– tum_
May 2 '19 at 17:07
• Hopefully removed the confusion, see upd5 in my answer. As to Putin's usage - will try to comment when I have time.
– tum_
May 3 '19 at 8:31
• @Mitsuko expanded the answer with upd6 to comment on "Putin's usage"+
– tum_
May 3 '19 at 15:44
• Also consider this: "Если будешь сидеть тихо, я схожу в магазин". (says mother to her child) What chronological order is this? And you can replace схожу with пойду or even present tense imperfective иду and past perfective пошла - the ultimate meaning remains the same. Thus we can conclude that in Russian grammatical forms do not unambiguously express the chronological order of the events in the future tense, other instruments are necessary to resolve the ambiguity when it arises or the order is clear from the context. apologies for the typos - tablet pc, tiny keyboard.
– tum_
May 3 '19 at 20:34

We can say

Я куплю и нарежу рыбу, если ты потом попробуешь сашими.

Я куплю и нарежу рыбу при условии, что ты потом попробуешь сашими.

Я куплю и нарежу рыбу, если ты хочешь попробовать сашими.

That is, having no such great variety of tense-forms in Russian as in English, we express the sequience of events not grammatically, but lexically and syntactically.

• >> we express the sequience of events not grammatically, but lexically and syntactically. << Thank you so much for such a direct answer. I have now tried to do the impossible and came up with these variants: Если приедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогаю тебе с визой. Если будешь пробовать сашими, я покупаю и режу рыбу. I tried to express the inverse chronological order grammatically (by using different tenses in the main and subordinate clauses) rather than lexically or syntactically. Are my variants valid? May 2 '19 at 16:35
• @Mitsuko, they are, but expressing future through the present implies that you are really sure about the actions you are talking about, it's like a plan you are going to follow, or these actions will take place in the nearest future. Or maybe, even now. More than that, it is possible to say "Если ты едешь в Японию, я помогаю тебе с визой", but it really means a plan. May 2 '19 at 18:04
• >> expressing future through the present implies that you are really sure about the actions you are talking about << This is exactly what I want. I want to say that if he is absolutely committed to come, then I am absolutely committed to help him get his visa before he physically comes. Excellent, I am very happy I found a nice solution. May 2 '19 at 18:12

If you want to follow all 3 wishes, your examples in Set-2 are better. I can name only few variants to express the inverse-ordered chronology:

• Use Set-2 and stress 'будешь'/'станешь' like you described this for English

Если будешь играть со мной в го, я объясню тебе его правила
If you will play go with me, I will explain you the rules

Если станешь пробовать сашими, я куплю и нарежу рыбу
If you will try sashimi, I will buy fish and slice it for you

• Use additional signals to show, that second part is before the first

Если ты приедешь ко мне в Японию, я для этой поездки помогу тебе получить японскую визу
If you visit me in Japan, I will help you with a Japanese visa for this trip

• Make sentences even simpler and hope that you will be understood

Если пойдёшь ко мне, я куплю закуски
If you will visit me, I will buy snacks

Now I would like to discuss your wishes and share my view to the problem.

Wish-1:

Generally speaking, you cannot throw out expressions of planning ('если ты решишь приехать'='if you decide to come', 'если ты соберёшься приехать'='if you are going to come') from the meaning of your sentence, because the action in the second part of inverse-ordered chronology is done after the prediction (the first part) was made. I will illustrate this by your example:

Если приедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить японскую визу

The author helps to get the visa of Japan only if his interlocutor promise to use it for visiting the author. But any promise might be failed to keep. Natural disaster, illness, accidents - anything might happen. Unplanned blocker is not a reason not to help with getting the visa of Japan, or if the interlocutor got sick right now it doesn't mean that help with visa automatically not happened. You know, that a decision is much stronger than a weak wish. So, the inverse-ordered chronology is an illusion and it is normal to mention 'decision'-expressions in such sentences:

Если решишь приехать ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить японскую визу

So, we see that Wish-1 is not strict for normal speech.

Wish-2:

I fully agree with you that it is a kind of pressure to get a strong promise. By the way, this is about planning again, it is just a way to hide 'you think, that' expression, so this is about a decision again:

Если [ты думаешь, что] точно приедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить японскую визу

Wish-3:

Hiding both 'decision'-expressions and signals of time control, you are risking not to be understood. Although most situations are obvious enough not to use anything, I am sure that for each situation you don't have to use complex signals of 4+ words, but this requires more vocabulary: not efficient, but a small tool set will cover most frequent cases.

Enjoy Russian!

P.S. Strictly saying, you can use even your Set-1 form with 'по-' for verbs of 'traveling' (go/fly/drive...):

Если поедешь ко мне в Японию, я помогу тебе получить визу Японии

Если ты пойдёшь в магазин, я не буду заезжать за продуктами
If you will go to the shop, I will not buy products

Если мы полетим в другую страну, я куплю словарь
If we will fly to another country, I will buy a dictionary

• Thank you so much for such a detailed answer. Your explanation about my wish 1 shows how different our mentalities are. If I will do X, I simply know that X is done in the future. I plan all my future actions in such a way so as to keep X done in my plans, that is, to make sure nothing changes the "done" status of X before X gets completely done in the physical world. For example, if X = to be at 9am at a certain place, I have to wake up not later than 7am in order to keep X "done" in my plans. In English there is an expression showing this way of thinking: "Consider it done." May 2 '19 at 16:37
• If I have not yet told someone that I will do X, then I can, theoretically, "undo" X in my plans, but this happens extremely rarely, because I do not review already made decisions of mine. This saves my mental effort and allows me to avoid various distractions and temptations and to lead a very organized way of life without actually applying willpower. This is my natural habit. This is what we are. If, on top of that, I happen to tell someone that I will do X, then "undoing" is absolutely a no go, unless a tsunami or earthquake comes and "undoes" future things. May 2 '19 at 16:38
• I hope you now understand my mindset and why I want to avoid using expressions like если ты решишь. To me, the mere use of such expressions is like telling my conversation partner that he is unreliable, or like giving him the right to change his decision. Look, if deciding and doing are the same thing for him (just like for me), I have no reason to make a distinction between them in my statements. And if deciding and doing are NOT the same thing for him, he is simply unreliable and not worth my attention at all. If you say, then do, and if you cannot do, then do not say, as simple as that. May 2 '19 at 16:40
• >> Hiding both 'decision'-expressions and signals of time control, you are risking not to be understood. << What if I say this: Если ты придешь ко мне, я беру доску у соседа. This sentence has neither 'decision'-expressions nor time markers. The inverse chronological order is conveyed by the difference between the tenses used in the main and subordinate clauses. Is this variant what I am looking for? May 2 '19 at 16:41
• Thank you for your feedback! I think I can understand you: when I say 'I will' I mean I will succeed too. But when speaking about anyone else, saying 'If you decide..' I try to a add some respect to this person's choice. Saying 'If you will come' (stressing the 'will') sounds like 'If you will really come' which contradicts with Wish-2. Saying 'Если ты придёшь ко мне, я беру доску у соседа' is correct, it means you are starting to prepare for a visit now, or, as you said, 'Consider it done'. Similarly you can say 'Если ты идёшь ко мне [завтра], я возьму доску у соседа' May 2 '19 at 19:59

Придётся объяснить чётко, для того, чтобы не было недопонимания:

`Ладно, раз уж тебе так хочется навестить меня в Японии, я помогу тебе с визой.`

Here, everything is clear:

1. You are stating outright that the reason for your help is so that the friend visits you in Japan (навестить меня в Японии). Not visiting Japan but visiting you in Japan.
2. You are emphasizing that the reason for your cooperation is the intensity of desire of the friend to visit you in Japan (раз уж тебе так хочется)
3. You are emphasizing your RELUCTANCE to do this (Ладно), that is, your friend was finally able to persuade you to help them.
4. You are softening the impact of the first statement by using `Раз уж тебе так хочется` instead of `Раз уж ты так хочешь`, making it indirect rather than direct.

The above sentence should be NOT used until the friend begs you several times to make the visit a go. It makes no sense to declare your willingness to help without the friend's indication of the intensity of their desire to visit you.

If you prefer a different version:

`Я помогу тебе с визой, но только если ты действительно приедешь ко мне.`

For the other two examples:

Раз уж тебе так хочется попробовать сашими, я куплю и нарежу тебе рыбу.

`Я куплю и нарежу тебе рыбу, но только если ты будешь есть сашими.`

Раз уж тебе так хочется поиграть в Го, я принесу доску.

`Я принесу доску, но только если ты будешь играть со мной в Го.`