What conjugation rules are applied in 恥ずかしながら?


The particle ながら attaches to the continuative form (連用形) of a verb or directly to the stem adjective. 恥ずかしい is an adjective with step 恥ずかし, so this is a regular formation.


As Zhen Lin explained, 恥ずかしながら is formed by attaching the particle ながら (which means something close to “although”) to 恥ずかし, which is the stem of the i-adjective 恥ずかしい. However, this is not the regular pattern of ながら in modern Japanese.

The regular pattern is that when ながら is attached to an i-adjective, the adjective takes the dictionary form. Web search shows many examples of 美しいながら, 弱いながら, and so on.

So if the phrase followed the regular pattern, it would be 恥ずかしいながら. This form is not unseen but less common than 恥ずかしながら. I do not know why it is. It might be the case that the two vowels ii were contracted to one vowel i because the phrase is used very often.

Daijisen (sense [2]) states that this ながら was attached to the stem of an i-adjective in old time. However, I do not know how “old” this “old time” refers to, and I do not know if it explains the reason why 恥ずかしながら is more common.

  • Isn't adjective stem + ながら similar to verb stem + ながら, for example 食べながらテレビを見る? Or does adjective not work the same as verb in this case? – Lukman Aug 7 '11 at 5:05
  • @Lukman: (1) ながら in your example means that two events occur simultaneously. ながら with this meaning cannot be attached to an adjective. (2) As I stated in the answer, when ながら meaning “although” is attached to an i-adjective, the regular pattern is that the i-adjective takes the dictionary form. For example, neither 美しながら nor 弱ながら sounds correct to me. (3) When ながら (either meaning) is attached to a verb, the verb takes the continuative form (連用形). For example, the correct form is 言いながら instead of 言ながら. – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 7 '11 at 15:59
  • I think what you call continuative form is the same as what I learned as verb stem, because verb stem of 言う is indeed 言い. It's actually what's left of a verb when ます is taken out from the polite form (ます form) – Lukman Aug 7 '11 at 16:09
  • @Lukman: Then I did not know what a verb stem is. As I understand it, the stem of an i-adjective is the unchanged part of an i-adjective: 恥ずかし in 恥ずかしい, 美し in 美しい, 弱 in 弱い, and so on, and has nothing to do with ます (which cannot be attached to an i-adjective anyway). Anyway, the point of my answer is that 恥ずかしながら deviates from the regular pattern of ながら being attached to an i-adjective. – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 7 '11 at 16:14

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