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Concurrent events with 〜ながら

Appending ながら to the stem of a verb conveys that the action is a secondary action, being performed at the same time as the verb following ながら. This is the same as saying “doing X while doing Y” in English. Both actions must be performed by the same person.

Alternate explanations

A conjunction which indicates that the action expressed by the preceding verb takes place concurrently or simultaneously with the action expressed in the main clause.

Makino, Seiichi and Michio Tsutsui. “Main Entries.” A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, The Japan Times Ltd., 1989, p. 269

The particle ながら expresses simultaneous actions: one subject performs one main action while also performing another, secondary action. The secondary action is given first, and the form of the verb used—the form that comes before ながら— is the stem (the ます form without ます).

Kamiya, Taeko. “Describing Actions in the Present, Future, and Past.” Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication, Kodansha, 2005, p. 96

Indicates that the action described by the verb it follows is being carried out at the same time another action is taking place.

English approximation: “while doing …, (also doing …)”

Kawashima, Sue A. “NAGARA ながら.” A Dictionary of Japanese Particles, Kodansha, 1999, p. 110

Indicates that two actions are taking place simultaneously: “as, while.”

Note: The subject of both clauses must be the same. In English translation, the main and subordinate clauses of the Japanese are usually reversed.

Chino, Naoko. “-NAGARA” All About Particles: A handbook of Japanese Function Words, Kodansha, 2001, p. 107

Vconj + ながら “while doing …”

Vconj + ながら expresses simultaneous actions performed by one subject

Kamiya, Takeo. “Usage of Verb Forms.” The Handbook of Japanese Verbs, Kodansha, 2001, p. 57

See also

  • When one action takes place during another, 〜間(に) is used.
  • When refering to a period of time, especially when taking advantage of an opportunity, 〜うちに is used.
  • When contrasting with another period of time, 〜うちは is used.


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