Harry is flying his new broomstick (the Nimbus 2000):

The Nimbus 2000, with only a slight touch, flew in accordance with Harry's thoughts.

I'm familiar with the usage where まま describes a state that persists, but that does not seem to be the case here. The broom surely did not fly in a state where Harry's thoughts persisted.

I have guessed that this ままに means 'in accordance with' purely from context. I can find a slight hint at this usage in only one of my grammar books, but nothing substantial.

Could you confirm that 'in accordance with' is correct, and give some other examples of this usage please?

Is there any way in which this usage contexts with the まま meaning persistence of state, or should I think of them completely separately?

I also wonder how the sentence differs from ハリーの思いのとおりに飛んだ?


1 Answer 1


From an English perspective, it might be better to think of まま as meaning something like "just as [whatever came before], with / in the state of [whatever came before]". Examples:

  • ドア開【あ】けっ放【ぱな】しのまま ("with the door left open", [something else])
  • 食【た】べていないまま ("with [someone] not having eaten yet", [something else])
  • 思【おも】いのまま ("just as [someone] thinks")

Adding the に as in your sample text comes across like 思【おも】いのまま[に]{●}飛【と】んだ ("[the broom] flew, just as [Harry] was thinking"). If we view the に as analogous to English preposition "in", then we might also translate that (a bit clunkily, but more directly) as "[the broom] flew, in the way that [Harry] was thinking".

As I understand it, とおり refers to following something more explicitly, as an outgrowth of the underlying verb 通【とお】る ("to pass through"), from the idea of "going through or following through [something explicitly expressed]". Meanwhile, まま to me expresses a "squishier" kind of idea, where the "just as" sense applies to something that hasn't necessarily been explicitly expressed. There are some grammatical subtleties as well, and my sense is that we couldn't use 思【おも】いのとおり (for that matter, the MS IME won't even suggest the proper kanji-less spelling of とおり when using this construction). Instead, we would have to use either 思【おも】[っ]{●}[た]{●}とおり – as in, someone thought something (past tense, completed action), and then something else happens to follow through on those thoughts — or 思【おも】うとおり – as in, someone thinks something (present tense, ongoing action), and then something else happens to follow through on that thinking.

(Note that I am not a native speaker, so this is based on my studies and experience at the remove of a second-language learner.)

  • 2
    Furigana of 開けっ放し should be あけっぱし. (I cannot make this edit myself due to "Edits must be at least 6 characters"...)
    – Arfrever
    Jan 5 at 22:59
  • @Arfrever, doh! Thank you, will fix momentarily. Jan 5 at 23:39
  • Thanks. An interesting way of looking at it. I think I can bend my brain to make this work for me. How sure are you about the 思いのとおり thing being wrong? My grammar book shows that nounのとおり is a valid construct. Maybe I should ask a separate question about that. Jan 6 at 19:37
  • 1
    @user3856370 - 思いのとおり is not common though understood. There is 思い[通]{どお}り.
    – aguijonazo
    Jan 6 at 20:27

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