I saw this in a book I'm reading:


I'm familiar with まま but I've never seen it used that way. How should I interpret the last part of the sentence?

1 Answer 1


Grammatical explanation could be even more confusing, but the conclusion is, V + がまま has just the same meaning as V + まま "staying as (one) V".

My thoughts were interrupted, and I couldn't help allowing the killer ant to charge into me (lit. ...how the killer ant charges into me).

What makes you confused probably is the が. Since がまま is a fixed phrase using Classical Japanese grammar, where が and の meant the opposite of what they do today, the が should be interpreted as の. But you may notice that when verbs qualify nouns they don't need particle の anyway. It's true, actually this phrase is an "imitated" Classical Japanese and this が is totally redundant with verbs. Despite this fact, the construction begets many idioms such as: あるがまま "as it is; que sera sera*", なすがまま "at the mercy of", わがまま "selfish" (this one is grammatically correct).

*Incidentally, this is bad Spanish, too...

  • Are you sure that these seemingly broken forms didn't exist in Classical Japanese? Couldn't it also be that the 連体形 was serving as some sort of quasi-nominal, such as it does in 係り結び? (I.e., syntactically speaking, あるがまま⇔ありのまま) Apr 3, 2016 at 5:53
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    @DariusJahandarie Nice reference! As I get from that paper, almost all が examples are nominative (most in gerunds) followed by predicates (as opposed to genitive to nouns), as the author says 「が」準体法の用例は,文脈においてすべて主格相当の機能を果たしていると認定出来るようである。 Usually, 連体形 behaves like adjective (in European sense) on itself so there's no necessity to add something before a noun. At least I don't think I've ever seen such forms, though I don't have any Classical corpus... Apr 4, 2016 at 2:19

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