728 - まま

JLPT N4: まま ([leaving something] as is)

まま is used to show that the state or condition of something has not been altered.

For example, let's say your coworker Sasaki-san went to the bathroom and still hasn't come back (the state of being gone is continuing), then you could say:


佐々木さんはトイレに行ったまま、まだ戻ってこない。
ささき さん は トイレ に いった まま、 まだ もどって こない。
Sasaki-san went to the bathroom, and he [she] still hasn’t come back.
Literally: “Sasaki-san + は + bathroom / toilet + に + went + まま, + still + doesn’t come back (=return [and] + doesn’t come).”


Sasaki-san hasn't come back. The state of affairs (=Sasaki-san not being here) is continuing.

Thus, we say 行ったまま (=went + まま). Sasaki-san went and is still gone.


Perhaps you have finally worked up the courage to confess your feelings to your crush.

Sadly, this is the response you get:


友達ままでいよう。
ともだち の まま で いよう。
Let’s just stay [be] friends.
Literally: “friends + の + まま + で + let’s be.”
Note: Looks like the listener got friendzoned.




👷 Construction 👷

V たまま
Plain-form VERB (not Vる) + まま

NOUNまま
Na-adjectiveまま


It seems to me that verbs used in this construction most commonly appear in the V た form. As indicated above, though, it is technically possible for other plain-form verb conjugations to come right before まま, but these verb conjugations will never be positive plain present tense verbs (Vる):


私は反抗期がないまま大人になりました。
わたし は はんこうき が ない まま おとな に なりました。
I never went through a rebellious phase while growing up.
Literally: “I + は + rebellious age / rebellious period of time + が + there isn't / don't have + まま + adult + に + became.”




While the usage of まま might seem fairly straightforward, I've noticed that it rarely gets explicitly stated when translating Japanese sentences into English ones.

We're not using phrases like "as is", "stays", "remains", etc. in our translations, though that is the meaning that まま conveys.


30年前に買ったピアノは、今でも綺麗ままです。
さんじゅう ねん まえ に かった ピアノ は、 いま でも きれいな まま です。
The piano we bought thirty years ago still looks great today.
Literally: “30 years + ago / before + に + bought + piano + は, + now + even (=でも) + pretty / clean + まま + です.”
Note: I'm just guessing as to whose piano this is, as "we" or "I" seem most likely. In real life, it would be clear from context.




As mentioned above, まま is used when a certain condition or state has not been changed.

It is commonly used when you would expect a condition or state to be a different way — to change somehow — but it isn't or hasn't:


弟は目を開けたまま寝ている。
おとうと は め を あけた まま ねている。
My (little) brother is sleeping with his eyes open.
Literally: “younger brother + は + eyes + を + opened + まま + is sleeping.”


It's not normal for someone to sleep with their eyes open. This condition is not expected.

Similarly, maybe you always dry your hair after your morning shower, before you head out to school or work. But you overslept today, so:


寝坊して、髪が濡れたまま家を出た。
ねぼう して、 かみ が ぬれた まま いえ を でた。
I overslept, so I didn’t (have time to) dry my hair before leaving the house.
Literally: “oversleeping + do (and), + hair + が + got wet + まま + house + を + exited.”


Maybe you normally wear your dinosaur onesie to bed, but last night you fell asleep in your school uniform:


昨日は制服まま寝てしまった。
きのう は せいふく の まま ねて しまった。
Last night I fell asleep still wearing my uniform.
Literally: “yesterday + は + uniform + の + まま + (accidentally) slept.”


You can also use まま in a question. For example, quinoa is usually cooked, but you're curious if it can be eaten raw, so you ask:


キヌアはままで食べられますか。
キヌア は なま の まま で たべられます か。
Can you eat quinoa raw? // Can you eat quinoa without cooking it?
Literally: “quinoa + は + raw + の + まま + で + can eat + か?”


Since we're all curious now, I'll mention that, according to this site, "Quinoa can be eaten raw or uncooked if it is first soaked and sprouted, but some experts advise that quinoa should always be cooked, not consumed as a raw sprout."

And you can find dinosaur onesies on Amazon.




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