Difference Between ながら and まま?


This question isn’t necessarily about Kanji, but more about grammar. I’ve been looking everywhere for answers to this question, but can only find examples of ながら and not まま. I understand they both mean “while/during”, but I know there’s some nuance to it that I can’t seem to place my finger on.

I figured since this is a friendly and clever community, at least one of you might have the answer.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this.



まま is more ‘as it is’, than during. Don’t have time to write more now, but someone else will probsbly show up to help soon!


When you ask a question like this, it’s useful to give example sentences so we can tell you the difference based on those sentences. Here’s the explanation I found from Maggie Sensei:




I’ll put a couple of examples just to demonstrate what I mean.


I work while singing songs.


I drank coffee while standing up.

(I think these are grammatically correct anyway.)


Yeah, apologies. I realised this after I posted it. Thanks for the links! I’ll check them out.

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This site’s pretty good for grammar: :slight_smile: (Not that Maggie Sensei isn’t. :stuck_out_tongue:)




I don’t think you can use まま for singing songs, for that you have to use ながら. Singing songs is not a stationary condition (standing up, sitting down, lying down etc).


I think as more literal translation would be ‘As I was standing (didn’t move from position), I drank the coffee’. Correct me if I am wrong about this, but to me using まま like this, gives me a feeling of I drank thr coffee right where I was standing when I made it/got it handed to me.


Think of まま as “condition” or “state”

In a XYZ state


電気 を オン の まま に して ください
Please leave the light on

Think of ながら as “while” or “during”

While doing XYZ


歩き ながら 食べないで ください
Please don’t eat while walking


I think I’m starting to get the gist of it now. Thanks everyone!

Would 歩いていて食べないでください imply the same thing? (Just a bonus question really, not necessarily related.)

This sentence sounds a bit weird, like it says:

“Walk and don’t eat.”

Since the て joins the two parts, and the ください makes them both a request.

At least that’s how I see it.

You’re probably right. Either way, ながら just clarifies what the sentence is meant to imply so it can’t be interpreted weirdly.

It can, but I don’t think that it necessarily has to make both verbs a request. I have seen sentences like

A [method/means] Vて、B [request] Vてください。

For example

In the castle, please proceed by following the arrows.

Yeah, I was going to elaborate a bit more, but the essence of the sentence, even in your example, is:

“Do A, then do B, please.”

No? :stuck_out_tongue:


Ah… Very true! Didn’t look at it that way :slight_smile:


The extra いて is superfluous.


Keep walking. Please don’t eat.

The correct phrase would be:


While walking, don’t eat (or more naturally, don’t eat while walking).

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Gotcha. I just have this devil on my shoulder now telling me that when a verb has “ing” on the end I should be using continuous form, but it would appear that’s not always the case.

Don’t think about English translations as if they were literal.

Things can be interpreted differently, and usually the English translation goes for the intended meaning instead of the literal meaning. :slight_smile:

My advice to you, at this stage in your Japanese studies, is that it is totally fine to get stuck in a particular way of saying something. When you’re starting out, its good to figure out particular ways of expressing things. If that’s how the logic goes in your head - then go for it. As you develop you will find more varied, more accurate ways of expressing yourself.

Though, having ながら or まま can almost literally translate to “while” or “during” so bear that in mind when you use them or hear them.

There are many other ways of expressing this, but like I say, stick with what works for now and focus on other things like increasing your vocabulary, and of course Wani Kani.

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