LearnJapanese Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese





Expressing a lack of change

Posted by Tae Kim

Up until now, we've mostly been talking about things that have happened or changed in the course of events. We will now learn some simple grammar to express a lack of change.

Using 「まま」 to express a lack of change

Vocabulary

  1. この - this (abbr. of これの)
  2. 宜しい 【よろ・しい】 (i-adj) - good (formal)
  3. 半分 【はん・ぶん】 - half
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  5. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) - to throw away
  6. 駄目 【だめ】 - no good
  7. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  8. 今日 【きょう】 - today
  9. 悲しい 【かな・しい】 (i-adj) - sad
  10. その - that (abbr. of それの)
  11. 格好 【かっ・こう】 - appearance
  12. クラブ - club; nightclub
  13. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter

「まま」, not to be confused with the childish expression for "mother" (ママ), is a grammatical phrase to express a lack of change in something. Grammatically, it is used just like a regular noun. You'll most likely hear this grammar at a convenience store when you buy a very small item. Since store clerks use super polite expressions and at lightning fast speeds, learning this one expression will help you out a bit in advance. (Of course, upon showing a lack of comprehension, the person usually repeats the exact same phrase... at the exact same speed.)

Examples

  • このまま宜しいですか?
    Is it ok just like this?

In other words, the clerk wants to know if you'll take it just like that or whether you want it in a small bag. 「宜しい」, in case I haven't gone over it yet, is simply a very polite version of 「いい」. Notice that 「まま」 grammatically works just like a regular noun which means, as usual, that you can modify it with verb phrases or adjectives.

  • 半分しか食べてないまま捨てちゃダメ
    You can't throw it out leaving it in that half-eaten condition!

Ok, the translation is very loose, but the idea is that it's in an unchanged state of being half-eaten and you can't just throw that out.

Here's a good example I found googling around.
Hint: The 「いさせる」 is the causative form of 「いる」 meaning "let/make me exist".

  • 今日だけは悲しいままいさせてほしい
    For only today, I want you to let me stay in this sad condition.

Finally, just in case, here's an example of direct noun modification.

  • その格好のままクラブ入れないよ。
    You can't get in the club in that getup (without changing it).

Using 「っぱなし」 to leave something the way it is

Vocabulary

  1. 放す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) - to release; to set loose
  2. くれる (ru-verb) - to give
  3. ほったらかす (u-verb) - to neglect
  4. テレビ - TV, television
  5. 開ける 【あ・ける】 (ru-verb) - to open
  6. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) - to write
  7. つける (ru-verb) - to attach; to turn on
  8. する (exception) - to do
  9. 眠れる 【ねむ・れる】 (ru-verb) - to fall asleep
  10. 人 【ひと】 - person
  11. 結構 【けっ・こう】 - fairly, reasonably
  12. いる (ru-verb) - to exist (animate)
  13. 窓 【まど】 - window
  14. 蚊 【か】 - mosquito
  15. いっぱい - full
  16. 入る 【はい・る】 (u-verb) - to enter
  17. しまう (u-verb) - to do something by accident; to finish completely

The verb 「放す」 meaning "to set loose", can be used in various ways in regards to leaving something the way it is. For instance, a variation 「放っとく」 is used when you want to say "Leave me alone". For instance, you might use the command form of a request (くれる) and say, 「ほっといてくれ!」(Leave me alone!). Yet another variant 「ほったらかす」 means "to neglect".

The grammar I would like to discuss here is the 「っぱなし」 suffix variant. You can attach this suffix to the stem of any verb to describe the act of doing something and leaving it that way without changing it. You can treat the combination like a regular noun.

Here's a link with more examples of this grammar. As you can see by the examples, this suffix carries a nuance that the thing left alone is due to oversight or neglect. Here are the (simple) conjugation rules for this grammar.

Using 「っぱなし」 to complete an action and leave it that way
  • Take the stem of the verb and attach 「っぱなし」.
    Examples
    1. 開け開けっぱなし
    2. 書きっぱなし

Examples

  1. テレビつけっぱなししなければ眠れないは、結構いる
    There exists a fair number of people who cannot sleep unless they turn on the TV and leave it that way.
  2. 開けっ放しだったので、いっぱい入ってしまった。
    The window was left wide open so a lot of mosquitoes got in.