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The grammar dictionary どんなときどう使う日本語表現文型辞典 defines がてら in the following way:

  1. Accomplishing two objectives via one action. Can also mean to produce two results by doing a single action.
  2. Verbs of movement, such as 歩くor 行く, often follow.

It also gives the following example:

② 散歩がてら、ちょっと郵便局まで行ってきます。

The sentence ② is basically consistent with the example given in this question, and the explanation given in the answer: "the phrase 散歩がてら立ち寄った公園 would make more sense because stopping at a park is done while on the walk."

It is also consistent with the explanation given in this answer: "運転(し)がてら食事する -- eating along the way driving (after having driven half way)"


Now, the problem is that the same dictionary gives also another example:

④ 駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は 運動がてら歩くこと にしている。

and I see it as contrary to the above.

Walking is neither done in the middle of an exercise; nor is exercising the main action here (as we are talking about the station, then the action of moving towards the station should be, no matter what).


Why isn't the example written in the following way:

駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は 歩くことがてら運動 にしている。

Would there be a difference in meaning? What would be the meaning then?

Even if, for some reason, it doesn't sound right for a native speaker, please explain what meaning it would convey.

Does it matter that the predicate is making decision (にする) here?

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According to 明鏡国語辞典, 「~がてら」 can mean either 「~のついでに」 or 「~を兼ねて」.

And it gives two examples:

A: 「駅に行きがてら郵便局に立ち寄る」
B: 「散歩がてら買い物に行く」

The がてら in A means のついでに. I think the one in B can be interpreted as either のついでに or を兼ねて.

A: "I drop by at the post office along the way to the station."
B: "I go shopping while taking a walk." OR "I go shopping and it also/partly serves as a walk."

So I think your sentences:

② 散歩がてら、ちょっと郵便局まで行ってきます。
④ 駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は運動がてら歩くことにしている。

The がてら in ② can be either 「を兼ねて」 "partly for the purpose of~~" "which also serves as~~" or 「のついでに」 "while doing~~" "along the way". The one in ④ is used in the sense of 「を兼ねて」.

「駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は(駅まで)歩きがてら運動することにしている」

I think it would mean "I (regularly/usually) get some exercise while walking to the station." (but it doesn't sound very natural to me...)

  • As a side question: if I left home without intention to go to a post office, would 散歩がてら、ちょっと郵便局まで行ってきました be semantically correct? – macraf Jul 10 '17 at 0:26
  • Yeah, I think you could use it in that context, too. 「散歩がてら(散歩に行ったついでに)、(ふらりと・ふらっと "acccidentally")~に立ち寄った」とか言うので。 – Chocolate Jul 10 '17 at 2:29
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"運動がてら歩くことにしている" is OK but I prefer 歩きがてら運動することにしている.

歩くことがてら is simply ungrammatical and 運動することにしている means "I am scheduled (at my own will) to exercise myself" while 運動にしている means "I make it into exercise".

  • I don't see you even trying to answer the question. You just stated that the example from the book "is OK", while I asked why it was ok, because the explanations given in the other answers do not fit the example. – macraf Jul 9 '17 at 18:55
  • And taking the explanations from the other answers to the sentence which you prefer (although you did not explain why you prefer it), i.e. 歩きがてら運動することにしている, it could mean someone "walked half the way, then exercised, then continued to walk down to the station". It's obvious it's not the intention behind the example, so I asked why this example put the action of exercising before がてら and the action of walking after. – macraf Jul 9 '17 at 19:06
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散歩がてら、ちょっと郵便局まで行ってきます。

駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は 運動がてら歩くこと にしている。

It's a kind of long walk that it takes 30 min to the station, but it makes a good exercise, so the speaker chooses to walk when the weather is good. The speaker is talking about walking to the station. The がてら phrase is an adverbial phrase; the sentence stands without it.

If it's 駅まで30分ほどかかるが、天気のいい日は歩きがてら運動することにしている, it's talking about the exercise done by the long walk. Here I find the adverbial phrase is something more important than a mere modifier; you can't omit 歩きがてら.

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