Hiromi Sensei

Japanese Lessons, Travel, Food

Today, I am going to write about ながら. We’ll be reviewing two very similar concepts: あいだ and ながら. Roughly meaning “while”, both words will be used in the same type of conversation, but each has its own important distinctions in terms of whom is performing which part of the action, and when each action is being performed.

You may be faced with a difficult question in this; consider the sentence “I can chew gum while I walk.”  Do you consider which of these actions is the primary action?  Probably not, but it is important to remember that there is a primary action (walking, in this case). Likewise, “I snuck out while nobody was looking” has a primary action, but also describes the action of another.  As you work to translate, and create your own sentences, remember you pick which actions are primary, or secondary while あいだ and ながら help you explain.

You useながらwhen you describe a situation where you are doing two different things at the same time.  This is similar to, ‘while I’ in that two things are happening simultaneously, but ‘while’ allows multiple subjects, with different actions.

NOTE: While they are similar, while and nagara are not the same; while has a much broader usage as it is independent of the subject(s).

“While” has wider meaning than “ながら” as you can use while to describe two subject taking actions at the same time, or while can be used to compare two situations.

かつよう 活用 Conjugations

Pre-masu form (Stem) +ながら




れいぶん 例文 Example sentences:

わたしは おんがくを  ききながら りょうりをします。


I listen to music while I cook.

Your main action is to cook, and your sub action is to listen to music. ながら is connected to the clause which describe the sub action: おんがくをききながら(音楽を聴きながら)

わたしのちちは アルバイトをしながらがっこうにいきました。            


My father worked part time while going to school.

If you say it in the other way around, it means that main activity your father did during that time was part time job, which sounds odd from the context most cases. BUT if you want to focus on how he was working a part time job, you can say this way:

わたしのちちは がっこうにいきながら アルバイトをしました。


You connect ながら to a clause which is a sub-action while you use “while” for your main action between the two. When you are doing two things that don’t matter which is the main action would be, you can say in either order.





“I can read books and speaking at the same time/ I can talk while reading books.”  

Key points

ながらin negative form



“You must not talk on the phone while driving a car.”

You may notice that the Japanese sentence has negative form in “main clause.”  Literally it says, “You must not drive as you talk on the phone.”

Combining with other grammar

Let’s say you enjoy doing something while you are doing something else; for example: “I like to listen to music when I eat,” you are doing two things at the same time, and your main action is to eat. You can use ながら for the sub action, “to listen to music.” The sentence would look like this:



I like to listen to the music while I eat [meals].

 れんしゅう 練習 Exercises:

Please complete sentences below. Consider which action would be the main action in a sentence.

1. I am singing while riding a bicycle.


2. I like dancing while/when I listen to music. * Main action is to listen to the music.


3. I want to play music while I dance. (play music おんがくをながす 音楽を流す)


*Main action is “dance,” and you need to add ~たい, (want to) in the main clause.

4. My friend and I talked while we were walking in the park.


5. Mr. Suzuki was reading news on the phone while eating breakfast.



うたう 歌う    Sing

おどる 踊る     Dance

けいたい(でんわ) 携帯電話 Cell/mobile phone

こうえん 公園 Park

じてんしゃ 自転車     Bicycle

ニュース     News

かいとうれい 解答例 Example answers: 

1.わたしは うたいながら じてんしゃに のっています。


2.わたしは おどりながら おんがくを きくのが すきです。


3.わたしは おんがくを ながしながら ダンスをしたいです。(おどりたいです。)


4.わたしは ともだちと あるきながら こうえんを あるきました。


5. すずきさんは けいたい(でんわ)で ニュースを みながら あさごはんを たべていました。

鈴木さんは携帯(電話)でニュースを見ながら、朝ごはんを食べていました。(Past continuous)