Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 4: 2/18

つつ

While, And

Structure

Verb[ます+ つつ

Details

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About つつ

つつ is a particle in Japanese that appears after the ます-stem form of verbs. When used, it indicates that (B) is an action that is happening at the same time as (A). This usually translates simply as 'while (A), (B)'.
つつ is a formal grammar structure and will appear in writing more than in speech.
  • 環境(かんきょう)(わる)いと()つつ、レジ(ぶくろ)使(つか)(つづ)けている。
    While I know that it is bad for the environment, I continue to use plastic bags.
  • インターネットでレシピを()つつ料理(りょうり)をしたので今日(きょう)晩御飯(ばんごはん)美味(おい)しいはずです。
    Dinner tonight should be delicious since I cooked while looking at a recipe on the internet.
Caution - Unlike ながら, つつ is used more often when the (A) action is an ongoing state, rather than an actual physical action that involves movement. ながら may be used for both physical motions and states.
  • (はし)ながら携帯(けいたい)でゲームをしていたら、電柱(でんちゅう)にぶつかった。
    I bumped into a telephone pole because I was gaming on my phone while I was walking. (Natural Japanese)
  • (はし)つつ携帯(けいたい)でゲームをしていたら、電柱(でんちゅう)にぶつかった。
    I bumped into a telephone pole because I was gaming on my phone while I was walking. (Physical action, unnatural Japanese)
  • 仕事(しごと)関係(かんけい)ないことを(かんが)ながら仕事(しごと)をしていたら、(おお)きなミスをしてしまった。
    I made a big mistake at work because I was working while thinking about something unrelated to work. (Natural Japanese)
  • 仕事(しごと)関係(かんけい)ないことを(かんが)つつ仕事(しごと)をしていたら、(おお)きなミスをしてしまった。
    I made a big mistake at work because I was working while thinking about something unrelated to work. (Non-physical, natural Japanese)
Despite this, the (B) action in つつ sentences may either be physical movements or ongoing states.

Examples

  • ツバメは飛行(ひこう)つつ()ことができる。

    The swallow can sleep while flying.

  • 参加者(さんかしゃ)南極点(なんきょくてん)遠征(えんせい)のために食料(しょくりょう)配給(はいきゅう)準備(じゅんび)つつ毎日(まいにち)のスケジュールを(おぼ)えたりする。

    While preparing food rations for the south pole expedition, participants were memorizing things like the daily schedule.

  • 老人(ろうじん)(しず)太陽(たいよう)景色(けしき)()つつ(なつ)かしい青春(せいしゅん)(おも)()した。

    While watching the scenery of the setting sun, the elderly man recalled his nostalgic youth.

  • 布団(ふとん)()つつテレビ見入(みい)ってしまった。

    While laying out my futon, I got transfixed by the TV.

  • 連載(れんさい)コラムを多数(たすう)執筆(しっぴつ)つつ長編(ちょうへん)小説(しょうせつ)()いてしまうんだからすごいね。

    That's amazing that you are writing a number of serial columns for the newspaper while also writing a full-length novel.

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つつ – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

  • Eroliene

    Eroliene

    About 1 year ago

    ツバメは飛行しつつ、寝ることができる。

    Based on how the grammar point was explained, this example sentence seems super, mega wrong.

    Caution - Unlike ながら, つつ is used more often when the (A) action is an ongoing state, rather than an actual physical action that involves movement.

    Flight is an active, physical activity which involves movement. The only explanation I can fathom is a nuance wherein the swallow being asleep makes it a non-active participant in its own flying, downgrading its flight to the “ongoing state” status of hurtling through the air.

    This is some hefty nuance to be dropped in unexplained, so it feels more likely that it is an error. If this is in fact hefty nuance, please confirm! My mind would indeed be blown.

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