I'm pretty sure ~れに~れて is a grammar form that I have studied in my JLPT textbooks, but I came across it again in a text and I can't for the life of me find it again in my grammar dictionaries. I also looked on JGram, but couldn't find it there.

The particular case I came across was:


Without knowing what 遅{おく}れに遅{おく}れて is doing, I feel I'm missing an important nuance.

I think it's something like, "From long ago, people have been slow to be conscious of their own age." But how is the above sentence different from this one:



  • 1
    Ref: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1856/78
    – istrasci
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 14:30
  • @istrasci: Aha! That's what I needed to know. Thanks for that link (I knew I saw this somewhere). Should this question be closed as a duplicate?
    – Questioner
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 15:03
  • Probably, unless 遅れに遅れて has some idiomatic meaning or something else applicable that the other post doesn't address.
    – istrasci
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:37
  • @istrasci: Okay, I've voted to close it. :)
    – Questioner
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 0:10
  • I'm curious about the context of this sentence. Where did you find it? At first, the combination of 昔 and 自覚する seemed awkward to me, but I guess it's possible if it's supposed to mean something like "At some point in the past, man finally became conscious of his age".
    – dainichi
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 0:19

3 Answers 3


An attempt to answer your question about how the two sentences are different:

遅くて means something like "because it's late" and doesn't make much sense in the sentence.

遅く might make more sense semantically, but doesn't seem to put enough emphasis on the being late "Long ago, humans become conscious of their age late". The "late" doesn't quite know what it wants (Sorry, can't explain this much better).

遅れに遅れて tries to capture the sense of "finally" or "after much delay" and therefore implies that man should have become conscious about his age earlier. "Long ago, humans finally become conscious of their age".

It would be easier to be certain if I had more context for your sentence.


My apologies if someone already noticed this, but I believe the actual sentence was:


That would explain why people got confused over 昔. I just came across the same unknown phrase in 短期マスター日本語能力試験ドリルN1.


This is one example of the common pattern: V1 + ni + V2. Both V1 and V2 are the same verb; however, V1 in in 連用形 (adverbial, conjunctive form)*. It expresses emphasis or that an event continued for a long time. You may generally remove the (V1 + ni) portion without loosing much of the semantic meaning. A much more common example is 待ちに待った.

*連用形: The form of the verb that -masu attaches to. yom-u --> yomi(masu), tabe-ru --> tabe(masu) This should really go into a FAQ.

  • For reference, linked is a decent study of the grammar: lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/nichigen/issue/pdf/10/10-04.pdf
    – Dono
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 12:45
  • Thank you very much for answering. Unfortunately, though, while you give a lot of information, it doesn't really answer the question.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 13:39
  • Your question is: "But how is the above sentence different from this one: 人間は昔、遅くて自らの年を自覚じかくする。" And my response is "You may generally remove the (V1 + ni) portion without loosing much of the semantic meaning." From that you should be able to conclude that it is 遅れて and not 遅くて, and the meaning is the same minus the emphasis. The intent of my full response was to give you the tools to interpret the grammatical construction so that it can be understood in other contexts as well.
    – Dono
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .