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<< nanoni | naradeha >>

なら [なら] (nara)
    Meaning: if
    Example: If it's from outside, I don't mind.
    JLPT Level: 3
    Category: grammar
    Author: Amatuka

  [ Edit This Grammar Entry ]
there are a few if/when constructs:

nara is similar to -eba
formed with verb-plain form + nara
 行くなら分かる = if/when you go you will understand

to is used when the action is expected to happen, rather than use the english 'if' use 'when...'
formed with verb-plain form + to
 行かないとまずい = it will be bad if you dont go

eba is used when PEOPLE do the actions or suggesting an action. masu-stem + ba
 行けばいいよ = its ok to go

tara is used in the other cases
 寒かったら行かない = if its cold i won't go
〜なら:1.もし (if) ; 辞書形 +(の,optional)なら

2.勧告(advice); 辞書形 + (の,optional)なら

     3.話題を出す時; (Speaking of.../ For...) ; 名詞 +(の,optional)なら 


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ex #901   外からなら撮ってもいいよ と言われたので,外に出て撮影しました。 
I was told that if you're taking it from outside I don't mind so I went out and took the shot.  
ex #906   乗るなら飲むな。 
If you drive, don't drink.  
ex #907   自分の信念を隠すくらいなら死んだほうがましだ。  
I would rather die than conceal my belief.  
ex #1259   よんどころない理由で参加されないのなら前払い金はお返しします。 
If you cannot attend for unavoidable reasons, we will refund your advance payment.  
ex #1288   ご都合により参加されないのなら前払い金はお返ししません。 
If you cannot attend for reasons of your own, the advance payment will not be refunded.  
ex #3124   その仕事がだめだと思うなら、辞めればいいと思うよ。 
If you think the job is no good, then I think it is best if you quit.  
ex #5288   仙台に来ていたなら、電話をしてくれればよかったのに。  
If you were in Sendai, you should have called me.  
ex #5289   彼が来るならこのパーティーには出席しなかったのに。  
If I knew HE was coming, I wouldn't have attended this party.  
ex #7001   「打ち合わせの時間は7時どうですか。」「7時はだめですが、8時ならいいですよ。」  
uHow about meeting at 7 o'clock?」「7 is bad for me, but 8 is fine.」  
ex #7002   中国に行くなら、航空券を早くしといた方がいいですよ。 
If you go to China, you should book your ticket early. nara  

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[ Add a See Also ]
Amatukaなら is used in the context of suggestions, commands, violitional sentences and such. (One example of each above ;-) 
AmatukaTherefore なら can't be used in sentences like the following where no such elements are present.
(BAD) 冷蔵庫を閉めるなら電気が消えますか。
(GOOD) 冷蔵庫を閉めると電気が消えますか。
If(when) you shut the fridge does the light go out?
dc(GOOD)冷蔵庫を閉めた(な)ら 電気が消えますか。
I cannot exaplain the difference usage in tara and nara
bamboo4であれば is closely realted to なら.
KotatsuSamanara is similar to -eba
eba is used when PEOPLE do the actions or suggesting an action.
tara is used in the other cases
and to is used when the action is expected to happen, rather than use the english 'if' use 'when...'
dcKS - I added your comment as a "note" on the above... 
dcI also thought -tara had a bit more "when" whereas -eba was a bit more if.
行ったら: when you go
行けば: if you go

although there is much more overlap than english
bamboo4行ったら is more like "when you get there" and 行くなら would be "if you go." 行けば is either soft command or archaic "when you go."
と can also mean " that..."
行かないとまずい " It is not good that (I/you/one) don't go"
〜なら/ならば、...、although なら is more common and usually, appear in conversations. 
One cannot use と(if/once)、with 意志形、命令形、ください、but instead use たら、なら、〜えば according to the respective situations or sentence. 
Agree with フリザさん.
「ここは禁煙です。煙草を吸うなら、外へ出てください。」→ 外へ出てから、煙草を吸っては構いません。

「煙草を吸ったら、入ってもいいです。」→ 煙草を吸ってから、入っても構いません。
bamboo4Correctly, 外へ出てから、煙草を吸っても構いません。

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