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Use of なら

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I've started studying なら and I don't quite understand it's use. The examples given are:

* ブラジルに行ったことがありますか。
- メキシコなら行ったことがありますが、ブラジルは行ったことがありません。

* 日本語がわかりますか。
- ひらがなならわかります。

In the first example, what would the difference be with an answer without なら?
In the second example, the textbook translates the sentence as: If it's in hiragana, yes. Is なら a way of forming conditional sentences?
 

Toritoribe

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In the first example, what would the difference be with an answer without なら?
In those two examples, なら works as a contrastive marker. It's similar to は, but is used in response to what was said.

なら
[副助]《断定の助動詞「なり」の未然形から》体言に付く。話題となるものを取り上げて示す。…について言えば。「母―間もなく帰ると思います」
なら[副助並助]の意味 - 国語辞書 - goo辞書
 
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So the idea behind it is a bit like that of だけ?

Also, this is from an exercise in the book. Would the answers be a correct use of なら?

外国語ができますか。  ええ、英語とスペイン語ならできます。
日本の料理が作れますか。  ええ、寿司なら作れます。
有名人にあったことがありますか。 いいえ、平常な人ならあったことがあります (not sure if 平常人 is correct, used 平常 from a dictionary)
楽器ができますか。  ええ、ギタ-ならできます。
お金が貸せますか。  ええ、1000円なら貸せます。
 
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Toritoribe

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Not really. Unlike だけ, なら doesn't limit the target. For instance, ギタ-ならできます doesn't mean they can only play guitar. It just emphasizes it. (Actually, there is an expression だけなら.)
 
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Now I'm really confused. The book says the idea behind なら is limitation and contrast. Wouldn't ギターならできます be: I can play the guitar, in contrast to other instruments, which I can't?
 

Mike Cash

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Now I'm really confused. The book says the idea behind なら is limitation and contrast. Wouldn't ギターならできます be: I can play the guitar, in contrast to other instruments, which I can't?
In contrast to what was already specifically mentioned by the other person.
 
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It's one of the examples given in the Genki II textbook. It is explained as that a smaller part, hiragana, is brought up and contrasted with a larger part, the language as a whole.
 

Mike Cash

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This particular use of なら expresses a distinction we would typically do with stress in English. Compare the difference:

Q. Can you play an instrument?
A. I can play guitar.

Q. Can you play an instrument?
A. I can play guitar.
 
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オ-ケ-。分かりました。ありがとうございます、とりとりべさん、マイクさん。
 
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