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第95課: The Particle Nagara ながら I: Simultaneous Action

In this lesson, you will be introduced to the particle nagara ながら. This particle is a conjunctive particle that is typically used to mean “while” in the sense of doing two things at the same time or in the same time span. Because using it will require conjugation, we’ll look at that first before delving into how it’s used.

 Ichidan Verbs
 見る +ながら = 見ながら
Miru + nagara = Minagara
 Godan Verbs
 飲む + ながら = 飲みながら
Nomu + nagara = Nominagara
 Suru
 する + ながら = しながら
Suru + nagara = shinagara
 Kuru
 来る + ながら = きながら
Kuru + nagara = kinagara

As you can see, using nagara ながら from the point of conjugation is no different than using –masu ます.

Simultaneous Action

The primary use of nagara ながら is to show simultaneous action or in the same time span. The clauses of the sentence you make must have the same subject, and the main verb of the sentence is found in the latter clause.

1. テレビを()ながらご(はん)()べる。
Terebi wo minagara gohan wo taberu.
To eat one’s meal while watching TV.

2. ご(はん)()べながらテレビを()る。
Gohan wo tabenagara terebi wo miru.
To watch TV while eating one’s meal.

As you can see, nagara stands for the “while” in these two sentences. The primary action is also clearly different. This is an incredibly important point because it is not always the case that switching the verb that has nagara results in a sensible statement.

3. ()きながら(たま)ねぎを()っていました。○
 Nakinagara tamanegi wo kitte imashita.
     I was cutting up onions with tears streaming down.
    (たま)ねぎを()りながら()いていました。??
 Tamanegi wo kirinagara naite imashita.
 
I was crying as I was cutting up onions.

You are cutting onions while crying because the onions are undoubtedly making you cry. Under normal circumstances, this is usually the cause for why people are crying while handling onions. Let's say, for some odd reason, your other half decided to break up with you over Facebook right before you began to prepare yourself a meal that will happen to contain onion. There you are about to start cutting the onions up and you're crying your eyes out from reading the words “we’re through.” Way before you cut into the first onion, you're already shedding a large volume of tears. Yet, despite the tears, you have to eat, and so you begin to prepare the food by first cutting up said onions. In this situation, with sufficient explanation as so to back it up, the flipping of the two clauses may make sense.

4. 辞書(じしょ)()らない単語(たんご)調(しら)べながら、フランス()(ほん)()みたいと(おも)います。○
 Jisho wo shiranai tango wo shirabenagara, Furansugo no hon wo yomitai to omoimasu.
  
 I want to read a French book while looking up words I don’t know with a dictionary.
 フランス()(ほん)()みながら辞書(じしょ)()らない単語(たんご)調(しら)べたいと(おも)います。??
 Furansugo no hon wo yominagara jisho de shiranai tango wo shirabetai to omoimasu.
   
I want to look up words I don’t know about as I’m reading a French book.

You've just received a French novel for the first time. Excited, you also realize that a dictionary will be your best friend to look up words you don’t know in said book. Because reading the book is the primary action, the first sentence is what makes sense. Now, say you are randomly looking up words you don't happen to know irrespective of the French book you’re reading. Maybe you decide to look up Spanish words randomly instead. In such an odd situation, the latter may make sense, but you’d best explain yourself.


More Examples 

5. 天津(てんしん)(はたら)きながら中国語(ちゅうごくご)(まな)んでいます。
 Tenshin de hatarakinagara chūgokugo wo manande imasu.
    I’m studying Chinese while working in Tianjin.

6. (ある)きながら読書(どくしょ)をするのはとても危険(きけん)です。
 Arukinagara dokusho wo suru no wa totemo kiken desu.
    Reading a book while walking is very dangerous.

7. コーヒーを()みながら、ゆっくりと会話(かいわ)しましょう。
 Kōhii wo nominagara, yukkuri to kaiwa shimashō.
    Let’s converse slowly while drinking coffee.

8. (くるま)運転(うんてん)しながら電話(でんわ)をしてはいけません。
 Kuruma wo unten shinagara, denwa wo shite wa ikemasen.
    You mustn’t talk on the phone while driving a car.

9. 先生(せんせい)(はなし)()きながら、ノートにメモを()ります。
 Sensei no hanashi wo kikinagara, nōto ni memo wo torimasu.
    I take notes in my notebook while listening to my teacher.

10. ご飯食(はんた)べながら(はな)さないで、行儀(ぎょうぎ)(わる)いのよ! (Feminine)
   Gohan tabenagara hanasaide, gyōgi ga warui no yo!
      Don’t talk while eating your food; what bad manners!

11. 電話(でんわ)(はな)しながらタバコを()うのはマナー違反(いはん)だと(おも)いませんか。
   Denwa de hanashinagara tabako wo sū no wa manā ihan da to omoimasen ka?
      Don’t you think smoking while talking on the phone is a breach of etiquette?

12. 宿題(しゅくだい)しながらピザを()ってて()づいたらなくなっていた。
   Shukudai shinagara piza wo kuttete kizuitara nakunatte ita.
      I was eating pizza while doing my homework, but once I noticed it was gone.

13. ()れた()()きな音楽(おんがく)()きながらドライブ(を)するのって至福(しふく)のひと(とき)だと(おも)いません?
Hareta hi ni suki na ongaku wo kikinagara doraibu (wo) suru no tte shifuku no hitotoki da to omoimasen ka?
Don’t you think driving while listening to your favorite music on a clear day is a blissful moment?

14. (わたし)新聞(しんぶん)()みながら、バスを()っていました。
   Watashi wa shimbun wo yominagara, basu wo matte imashita.
     I was waiting for the bus while reading the newspaper.

15. (まち)銀行(ぎんこう)(はたら)きながら、気象予報士(きしょうよほうし)勉強(べんきょう)をしています。
   Machi no ginkō de hatarakinagara,  kishō yohōshi no benkyō wo shite imasu.
      I’m studying to be a weather forecaster while working at the town bank.

16. ともかく、(ひと)(なや)みながら()きるしかないんですか。
   Tomokaku, hito wa nayaminagara ikiru shika nai n desu ka?
      Anyhow, do people have no choice but to live in worry?

17. 聴衆(ちょうしゅう)(ひと)たちも笑顔(えがお)()せながら熱心(ねっしん)()いていた。
  Chōshū no hitotachi mo egao wo misenagara nesshin ni kiite ita.
     The people in the audience were also listening with enthusiasm while showing smiles in their faces.

18. 部活(ぶかつ)もやりながら、(じゅく)(かよ)っていました。
   Bukatsu mo yarinagara, juku ni kayotte imashita.
      I was attended cram school while also doing club activities.

19. 大学(だいがく)(かよ)いながら、(つき)60(ろくじゅう)万円(まんえん)くらい(かせ)いでいました。
   Daigaku ni kayoinagara, tsuki ni rokujūman’en kurai kaseide imashita.
     I was earning about 600,000 yen a month while attending college.

20. 洗濯(せんたく)()わるのを()ちながら、明日(あす)準備(じゅんび)をしています。
  Sentaku ga owaru no wo machinagara, ashita no jumbi wo shite imasu.
     I’m doing preparations for tomorrow while waiting for the wash to finish.

21. 乗客(じょうきゃく)(まえ)でカップ(めん)()べながら運転(うんてん)する。
  Jōkyaku no mae de kappumen wo tabenagara unten suru.
     To drive while eating cup noodles in front of passengers.

22. 料理(りょうり)しながら、同時(どうじ)片付(かたづ)けも出来(でき)るんですよ。
  Ryōri shinagara, dōji ni katazuke mo dekiru n desu yo.
     It’s possible to clean up simultaneously while cooking, you know.

23. (わたし)毎日(まいにち)図書館(としょかん)色々(いろいろ)資料(しりょう)調(しら)べながら、漢字(かんじ)文法(ぶんぽう)など勉強(べんきょう)しています。
Watashi wa mainichi, toshokan de iroiro na shiryō wo shirabenagara, kanji ya bumpō nado benkyō shite imasu.
I’m studying Kanji and grammar in the library every day while examining various materials.

24. 電話(でんわ)をかけながらや、LINEなどのテキストメッセージを()ちながら注文(ちゅうもん)をすることは店員(てんいん)さんに(たい)して、あまりにも失礼(しつれい)行為(こうい)なんですよ。
Denwa wo kakenagara ya, Rain nado no tekisuto messēji wo uchinagara chūmon wo suru koto wa ten’intachi ni tai shite, amari ni mo shitsurei na kōi na n desu yo.
Ordering while being on the phone or typing text messages on LINE and such is beyond rude behavior toward employees.

Grammar Note: As this sentence demonstrates, nagara ながら can interestingly accept certain particles like ya や at times. This shows that it is somewhat noun-like. In this example, there is a need to refer to more than one ancillary verb phrase that is done with the same principle verb, and rather than repeating the same thing twice with slightly different context, just using nagara ya ながらや makes everything easier.


Instantaneous Verbs X 

Using nagara ながら with verbs that describe instant occurrences is incorrect. Therefore, it cannot be used with verbs like shinu 死ぬ, tsuku つく, kieru 消える, etc. For verbs that take hardly any time at all to take place, if the main action takes more time than the secondary verb in the first clause with nagara ながら, then the usage is incorrect.

25. (すわ)りながら(はな)しませんか。X
      Suwarinagara hanashimasen ka?
      (すわ)って(はな)しませんか。○
      Suwatte hanashimasen ka?
     How about we sit and talk?


Te て or Nagara ながら? 

Sometimes, using nagara ながら may resemble using the particle te て since the verb that goes with nagara ながら is a secondary action. However, ancillary actions described with te て tend to be means by which to do something or condition by which things happen. This difference means that te て and nagara ながら can indeed coexist in the same sentence. 

26. (くるま)での通勤時(つうきんじ)(かなら)ずテープを()いて英語(えいご)勉強(べんきょう)しています。
      Kuruma de no tsūkinji ni kanarazu tēpu wo kiite eigo wo benkyō shite imasu.
     I’m studying English by always listening to tapes when I commute by car.

27. (くるま)通勤(つうきん)しているときは(かなら)英会話(えいかいわ)のテープを()きながら運転(うんてん)します。
      Kuruma de tsūkin shite iru toki wa kanarazu eikaiwa no tēpu wo kikinagara unten shite imasu.
      I’m driving while always listening to English conversation times when commuting by car.

28. 文化(ぶんか)も、時代(じだい)(なが)れに()わせて進化(しんか)しながら()わっていかなければなりません。
      Bunka mo, jidai no nagare ni awasete shinka shinagara kawatte ikanakereba narimasen.
     Culture must also change as it evolves along with the trends of the times.

29. (いぬ)散歩(さんぽ)をしながら(ある)きタバコをする(ひと)迷惑(めいわく)だ。
      Inu no sampo wo shinagara aruki-tabako wo suru hito wa meiwaku da.
      People who smoke and walk while walking their dogs are bothers. 

Grammar Note: Some nagara ながら expressions refer to two actions done in tandem so much so that they result in set phrases without nagara ながら. This explains aruki-tabako歩きタバコ.  Other examples include aruki-sumaho 歩きスマホ (using one’s smart phone while walking), tabearuki 食べ歩き (eating while walking), etc.


Nagara-zoku ながら族

Nagara-zoku ながら族 is a set phrase that refers to people who do all sorts of things while they’re supposed to be focusing on work or the like. As is the case in this sentence, it can be used as a nice context to string several nagara ながら phrases together.

30. ながら(ぞく)って、大勢(おおぜい)いるんじゃないですか。(おれ)だって、携帯電話(けいたいでんわ)()ながら、テレビを見ながら、お(さけ)()みながら、お菓子(かし)()べながら、(あたま)()きながら、パソコンでRedditの質問(しつもん)回答(かいとう)しています。
Nagara-zoku tte, ōzei iru n ja nai desu ka? Ore datte, keitai denwa wo minagara, terebi wo minagara,osake wo nominagara, okashi wo tabenagara, atama wo kakinagara, pasokon de reditto no shitsumon ni kaitō shite imasu.
Aren’t there lots of people who do all sorts of stuff while they’re working? Like even me, I’m answering questions on Reddit on my computer while looking at my cellphone, while watching TV, while drinking liquor, while eating sweets, while scratching my head, etc. 

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