I generally know ~まま as used in the sense that something is left in a certain state, for example: 窓を開けたまま寝る.

Does this have a different meaning or connotation when used following the passive voice? For example, in this sentence:

わたしは言 われるままに 、彼に従ってきたつもりだ。

This is what I've puzzled out myself, but it doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

"わたし" is marked with は making that person the recipient of the action (and "彼" the one doing the action). "彼" intends to follow...something, perhaps "わたし", while "わたし" is in the sate of having been told something (or spoken to, etc).

  • I would translate it as, "I believe I've been doing as he's told me (/been telling me)." I may be too tired to give a decent explanation right now, or I may just not be very good at explaining this sort of thing well. =/ But if nothing else, you can read the comment I made on user1205935's answer for some of my thoughts. (In short, I'd say that まま's sense does change; not because the verb is passive voice, but because it's non-past tense.) Aug 28, 2012 at 8:35

2 Answers 2


The sentence should be parsed like this:

わたしは[言われるままに 、彼に従ってきた]つもりだ
I believe that I have been obeying him, just like somebody has been telling me to.

は is the topic marker, here used after わたし, the subject of つもりだ, i.e. the one who believes. に is the dative marker used after the indirect object of 従う, i.e. 彼.

まま here expresses the viewpoint that I have been following him just like I was told, i.e. without objections.

Note that つもり here doesn't mean "intend". つもりだ is in present tense, while 従ってきた is in past tense. You cannot have an intention now about something in the past. Used in this way, it can be translated as "believe". Or another way of translating the sentence might be

From my viewpoint, I've been obeying him, just like somebody has been telling me to.

  • That is a better translation of つもり in this case. You don't mind if I make that part of my answer, too...?
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 28, 2012 at 6:47
  • @user1205935, not at all.
    – dainichi
    Aug 28, 2012 at 6:51

まま has no different meaning here.

It just means, (courtesy of dainichi)

I believe, I simply followed his advice, just like I was told.

従う is intransitive and is its indirect object. わたし is the person who was told something and (without back-talking) follow .

It is unclear, however, whether わたし was told by , or was told by a third person.



I believe I did just follow the advice from Prof. Yamamoto, like my mother told me to.

The translation of つもり is courtesy of dainichi. Maybe the different meanings of つもり deserve a separate question, though.

Here 言われる can have both the meaning of someone telling わたし again and again, or just once, but the latter could more precisely put by choosing 言われた.

Anyway, the point is that まま has the meaning you know already; your sentence analysis is a bit off, though, maybe that is where you got confused.

  • Shouldn't your final sentence be つもりだった if you did not follow your original intention, and つもりだ if you did?
    – Tim
    Aug 28, 2012 at 4:45
  • Can't we say まま is the similar to 通り、as in いわれる通り?
    – Tim
    Aug 28, 2012 at 4:48
  • @Tim: Yeah, I thought about for a while, too... But his intention could still be to "follow" his professor, even if he didn't manage to do so on a particular occasion. The translation from English back to Japanese would certainly favour つもりだった, but the translation I gave sounds more natural to me.
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 28, 2012 at 4:50
  • @Tim: 通り is different, it implies that you do what you were told. まま means you are told and leave it at that, but doesn't imply your intention to do what you were told. Again, the reverse translation might favour 通り to まま... maybe I should think of a better translation.
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 28, 2012 at 4:52
  • @user1205935: Actually, I think that's only one way まま can be used. For example, goo actually explicitly says ままに can mean のとおり/にまかせて. I also think that, if it was "I was told (once)", then it might say 言われたように instead (or ままに could still work I guess; but past tense, is the point). And lastly, since ってきた is (or was) ongoing, it makes me think that 言われるまま is also supposed to be ongoing (or was, in the past). Aug 28, 2012 at 8:17

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