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Oct 6, 2018

Nagara - How to say "while" in Japanese

Hello. I'm Kosuke!

Today, let's learn about the word, nagara (ながら).

Nagara means "while" or "during".

Let's check how to use it with this article!

1. What is nagara?

Nagara is used when you do two things at the same time.

For example, if you want to say "while walking", you can say "あるきながら (aruki nagara)".

(あるき means "walk".)

Nagara is a Japanese particle, like "は(wa)" or "を(wo)".

If you want to know other particles, please check this:
  Japanese particles >>

Let's learn how to use nagara from the examples!

2. Examples

かれらは あるきながら きれいな さくらを たのしんで います。
ka re ra wa a ru ki na ga ra ki re i na sa ku ra wo ta no shi n de i ma su

Meaning: "They are enjoying beautiful Sakura while walking."

かれら: they
あるき: walk
きれいな: beautiful, clean
さくら: cherry blossoms
たのしんでいます: be enjoying

あるき(aruki), or あるく(aruku), means "walk".
In the example above, "while walking" is translated to "あるきながら(aruki nagara)".

If you don't know about "は(wa)" in "かれらは", please check this:
  Particle は(wa) >>

If you don't know about "を(wo)" in "さくらを", please check this:
  Particle を(wo) >>

If you want to know more about "きれいな", please check this:
  Kirei - beautiful and clean >>

If you want to know about the  "さくら" season in Japan, please check this:
  Japanese spring >>

かのじょは ほんを よみながら ジュースを のんで います。
ka no jo wa ho n wo yo mi na ga ra ju su wo no n de i ma su

Meaning: "She is drinking juice while reading a book."

かのじょ: she
ほん: book
よみ: read
ジュース: juice
のんでいます: be drinking

よみ(yomi), or よむ(yomu), means "read".
In the example above, "while reading" is translated to "よみながら(yomi nagara)".

If you don't know why Katakana is used for juice(ジュース), please check this:
  When should we use Katakana? >>

かれは しごとを しながら チキンを たべて います。
ka re wa shi go to wo shi na ga ra chi ki n wo ta be te i ma su

Meaning: "He is eating chicken while working."

かれ: he
しごとをし: work
チキン: chicken
たべています: be eating

しごとをし(shigoto wo shi), or しごとをする(shigoto wo suru), means "work".
In the example above, "while working" is translated to "しごとをしながら(shigoto wo shi nagara)".

3. How to use nagara

As you can know from the examples above, nagara is used right after a verb.

If you want to say "while walking", first, you should think what is the Japanese word for "walk".

"あるく(aruku)" is a verb, which means "walk".
So you should put "ながら(nagara)" right after the verb.

Therefore, it becomes:

"あるきながら (aruki nagara)"




I think some people can't understand one thing...

Why isn't it
"あるながら(aruku nagara)"?

"く(ku)" in "あるく(aruku)" changs to "き(ki)" when we put "ながら(nagara)" after it!

Why does this happen?

Please don't be angry.
Remembering English conjugations is also difficult for us Japanese people! hehe

The stem of the verb, "あるく(aruku)", is "ある(aru)".

Therefore, "く(ku)" changes to other characters, depending on the word after it.

"く(ku)" can change to "か(ka)", "き(ki)", "け(ke)", or "こ(ko)".

"あるく" is called a verb of "Godan Conjugation".

"Godan" means "five-stages".

Because it can change into five different characters, 
"か(ka)", "き(ki)", "く(ku)", "け(ke)", and "こ(ko)".

However, you don't need to remember these grammatical terms.

When you want to know how to use "ながら(nagara)", please remember one thing.

The verb becomes the same form as "~ます(masu)".

If you don't konw about "ます(masu)", please check this:
  ます(masu) >>

For example, if you use the verb "あるく(aruku)" with "ます(masu)", you will say "あるます(aruki masu)".

Just like above, if you want to use "あるく(aruku)" with "ながら(nagara)", you just need to use the same form as "~ます(masu)".

Therefore, it becomes "あるながら(aruki nagara)".

This way can be used for all Japanese verbs.

 あるきます (aruki masu)
 あるきながら (aruki nagara)

 ます (shi masu)
 ながら (shi nagara)

 はなします (hanashi masu)
 はなしながら (hanashi nagara)

 ます (mi masu)
 ながら (mi nagara)

 たべます (tabe masu)
 たべながら (tabe nagara)

 のみます (nomi masu)
 のみながら (nomi nagara)

Please think about how to use "ます(masu)" when you want to use "ながら(nagara)"!

Actually, I think remembering all conjugations of verbs are quite tough.

Japanese children learn the conjugations in junior high school.

However, they already know how to change verbs before learning it in school.

So it is easy for them to remember.

If you are a beginner of Japanese language, and if you have time, I recommend you to get used to Japanese language and its sound, using movies, songs, or anime. hehe

I wrote about my experience.
Please check if you are interested:
 Listening or Reading >>

4. Nagara smartphone?

If you have ever lived in Japan, perhaps, you have heard "ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)".

They often say "please don't do nagara sumaho".

What is "nagara sumaho"?

"ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)" is a new Japanese word.

"スマホ(sumaho)" means "smartphone".

As I wrote many times in the article about Japlish, Japanese people like to make words shorter:
 Japlish / Wasei-eigo >>

"スマホ(sumaho)" is another example.

"Smartphone" became shorter, and Japanese people often call it "su ma ho".

Therefore, "ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)" looks like it means "while using a smartphone".

However, "ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)" is not two words now.

This is a special case of the usage of "ながら(nagara)".

"ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)" is one noun now.

They are not the particle "nagara" and "sumaho" anymore.

It became one word because we use it very often.

It means "doing something while using smartphone".

Now, there are so many attractive smartphone application.

Japanese people started to use smartphones so often, even when they are walking, or while driving!

It caused many accidents in Japan, like in traffic...

It became an issue of Japanese society.
That's why, "ながらスマホ(nagara sumaho)" became such a common word in Japan.

New Japanese words are being created every day.

I will encounter many new Japanese words because I will go back to Japan after staying in the Philippines for 10 months...

I will share them from Japan..!

5. Conclusion

Please remember the three items about "ながら(nagara)" below!

  • "ながら(nagara)" is used when you do two things at the same time.

  • "ながら(nagara)" is similar to "while".

  • Verbs change form the same way as "~ます(masu)".

I hope this article helps you to study Japanese!
Please enjoy studying Japanese!


  1. 今は、ながらをわかります!このぶろーぐが好きです。ありがとうございました。

    1. 「ながら」について、わかっていただけたようで、とてもよかったです!(^^)

  2. Thank you so much, please can I ask you a question? Can I say 「おかし食べながらテレビ見たい」, "I want to watch TV while I'm eating snacks", It's that ok? Can I use たい form (want) with ながら?

    1. Thank you for reading this blog!(^^)
      Yes, you can use たい with ながら!
      You can say 「おかしを食べながらテレビを見たい」.