This jGram entry says that if you add なり after the past tense of the verb, it has a similar meaning to まま。

~したなり≈ ~したまま

For example:


But when I asked about this to my Japanese friends, they corrected it as 「見つめるなり」. One of my friends told me that since the final and main verb of the sentence 「しなかった」 is in past tense, the first verb 「みつめる」 should be in dictionary form. This statement clashes with the jGram entry, so I'd like to learn when it is ok to use past tense + なり and when it is not.

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


According to my intuition, 見つめたなり is much better, but 見つめるなり is not incorrect, either. Anyway, let me try to explain this as logically as I can.

I think your friend has oversimplified the rule of relative tense. The tense in a subordinate clause should be relative to the main clause. It can be in ta-form when you refer to something that happened in the past relative to the main clause.

~まま describes the continuation of state that was caused by an action in the past. Therefore it's always used with the ta-form; for example 彼は出て行っまま帰らなかった, 窓を開けまま寝てしまった, その時計は壊れままです.

Does this mean ~なり is always used with the ta-form, too? Let's see what 明鏡国語辞典 says about なり (emphasis mine).

なり 《接助》

① 《動詞などの連体形に付いて》ある動作の成立とほとんど同時に次の動作・作用が起こるときの、先行の動作を表す。「帰るなり部屋へ閉じこもってしまった」「一目見るなり病気だと分かった」

② 《過去の助動詞「た」の連体形に付いて》ある動作の成立後に次の動作に移らずにそのままの状態が続くときの、先行の動作を表す。…まま。「坐りこんだなり動かない」「服を着たなり寝てしまった」

So, なり is not always interchangeable with まま. When なり is preceded by the attributive form (①), it means "as soon as ~" or "the moment ~". When なり is preceded by the ta-form (②), it's interchangeable with まま.

I think your sentence in question is using なり in the second sense. That is, he stared at her, and while he was still staring at her (continuing state), he became motionless. But it's not impossible to read this sentence as "as soon as he stared at her, ...", so 見つめるなり is not incorrect, either.

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