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Expressing time-specific actions
In this lesson, we will go over various ways to express actions that take place in a certain time-frame. In particular, we will learn how to say:
1) an action has just been completed, 2) an action is taken immediately after another action took place, 3) an action occurs while another action is
ongoing, and 4) one continuously repeats an action.
Expressing an action that was just completed using 「~ばかり」
This is a very useful grammar that is used to indicated that one has just finished doing something. For instance, the first time I really wished I
knew how to say something like this was when I wanted to politely decline an invitation to eat because I had just eaten. To do this,
take the past tense of verb that you want to indicate as just being completed and add 「ばかり」. This is used with only the past tense of
Just like the other type of 「ばかり」 we have covered before, in slang, you can hear people use 「ばっか」 instead of 「ばかり」.
Using 「ばかり」 for actions just completed
To indicate that an action has ended just recently, take the past tense of the verb and add 「ばかり」.
例） 食べる → 食べた → 食べたばかり
For casual speech, you can abbreviate 「ばかり」 to just 「ばっか」
例） 食べたばかり → 食べたばっか
You can treat the result as you would with any noun.
Didn't just eat
- Sorry, but I'm full having just eaten.
- I just ran 10 kilometers and am really tired.
- I got back home just now.
Here are some examples of the abbreviated version.
- Despite the fact that I just ate lunch, I'm hungry already.
- No way, did you wake up just now?
Using 「とたん」 to express something that occurred immediately after an action
Kind of as a supplement to 「ばかり」, we will cover one way to say something happened as soon as something else occurs.
To use this grammar, add 「とたん」 to the past tense of the first action that happened. It is also common to add the 「に」 target particle to
indicate that specific point in time.
Using 「とたん」 to indicate one thing happened right after another
and attach 「とたん」 or 「とたんに」.
例） 開ける → 開けた → 開けたとたん（に）
例） 取る → 取った → 取ったとたん（に）
※Note: You can only use this grammar for things that happen outside your control.
- As soon as I opened window, cat jumped out.
For many more examples, check these examples sentences
from our old trusty WWWJDIC.
An important thing to realize is that you can only use this grammar for things that occur immediately after something else
and not for an action that you, yourself carry out. For instance, compare the following two sentences.
- (You carried out the action of going to the bathroom so this is not correct.)
- (Since becoming sleepy is something that happened outside your control, this sentence is ok.)
Using 「ながら」 for two concurrent actions
You can use 「ながら」 to express that one action is taking place in conjunction with another action. To use 「ながら」, you must change the
first verb to the stem and append 「ながら」. Though probably rare, you can also attach 「ながら」 to the negative of the verb for express the
negative. This grammar has no tense since it is determined by the second verb.
Using 「ながら」 for concurrent actions
例） 走る → 走り → 走りながら
For the negative, simply attach 「ながら」to the negative tense
例） 走る → 走らない → 走らないながら
- Do homework while watching TV.
- Like to walk to school while listening to music.
- Don't you think that wanting the other person to understand one's feelings while not saying anything is just simply selfishness?
Notice that the sentence ends with the main verb just like it always does. This means that the main action of the sentence is the verb
that ends the clause.
The 「ながら」 simply describes another action that is also taking place. For example, if we switched the verbs in （１） to say, 「宿題をしながら、
テレビを観る。」, this changes the sentence to say, "Watch TV while doing homework." In other words, the main action, in this case, becomes
watching TV and the action of doing homework is describing an action that is taking place at the same time.
The tense is controlled by the main verb so the verb used with 「ながら」 cannot have a tense.
（１） ポップコーンを食べながら、映画を観る。- Watch movie while eating popcorn.
（２） ポップコーンを食べながら、映画を観た。- Watched movie while eating popcorn.
（３） 口笛をしながら、手紙を書いていた。- Was writing letter while whistling.
Using 「ながら」 with state of being to mean "while"
A more advanced use of 「ながら」 is to use it with the implied state of being. In other words, you can use it with nouns or adjectives to talk about
what something is while something else. The implied state of being means that you must not use the declarative 「だ」, you just attach 「ながら」 to the
noun or adjective. For example, a common way this grammar is used is to say, "While it's unfortunate, something something..."
In Japanese, this would become 「残念ながら・・・」
You can also attach the inclusive 「も」 particle to 「ながら」 to get 「ながらも」. This changes the meaning from "while" to "even while".
Using 「ながら」 with state of being to mean "while" or 「ながらも」 to mean "even while"
To say [X] is something while something else, attach 「ながら」 to [X]
例） 残念 → 残念ながら
To say [X] is something even while something else, attach 「ながらも」 to [X]
例） 貧乏 → 貧乏ながらも
- While it's unfortunate, a lot of work came in and it became so that I can't go today.
- Even while I'm poor, I ended up buying a high quality bag.
- Even while he is a beginner, his actual skills are the same as a pro.
To repeat something with reckless abandon using 「まくる」
The WWWJDIC very succinctly defines the definition of this verb as a "verb suffix to indicate reckless abandon to the activity". Unfortunately, it doesn't
go on to tell you exactly how it's actually used. Actually, there's not much to explain. You take the stem of the verb and simply attach 「まくる」. However,
This is a very casual expression.
Using 「まくる」 for frequent actions
例） やる → やり → やりまくっている
You can use all the normal conjugations you would expect with any other verb.
Doing all the time
Don't do all the time
Did all the time
Didn't do all the time
- Having gotten hooked by games, I do nothing but use the computer lately.
- When I was in the US, I drank coke like all the time.
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