Here is a part of a sentence from my book:


I can't find any help in any of my references on the pattern of "masu-stem + ざま", which makes me hesitant to say that's exactly what it is, but I also can't figure out anything else it could be. From what it looks like to me it says "(he) dodged the shuriken", and I want to say that that "ざま" is 様, meaning "state" (and without the kanji I'm assuming it's "よけ" as in the masu-stem of "避ける" meaning "to avoid").

Am I right about the formation of this phrase? Can anyone add/correct anything?

  • 2
    What you are calling "masu-stem" is more accurately 連用形 (ren'yōkei). In English, this known as adverbial or conjunctive form.
    – Dono
    Oct 2, 2012 at 0:06
  • Next time, give the whole sentence… Imagine someone asking "here's part of a sentence: '…I known…' What is it?". It'd be much more easier for the rest of us to read "here's a sentence: 'Had I known that he was hungry, I'd have cooked some cookies for him'" don't you think?
    – Axioplase
    Oct 2, 2012 at 2:36
  • @Axioplase: I see your point, but the thing is I wasn't really looking for a translation of the sentence, just for help on how this verb was used. I find when I give example sentences, the bigger question gets lost in the specifics of the examples. To me it doesn't matter the actions that are happening to understand the grammatical forms. In your example, yes "I known" would be unclear, but "had I known" would have sufficed. (Of course, the trick here is knowing how much of the sentence is grammatically relevant.) Oct 2, 2012 at 3:39
  • @Dono: Oh, I always knew it as the masu-stem ^.^ I'll try to remember that Oct 2, 2012 at 3:40
  • @Dono:Most text books and reference books for Japanese learners refer to the "masu-stem", which is intuitively clear and easy to remember for anyone learning Japanese not linguistics.
    – Tim
    Oct 2, 2012 at 9:32

1 Answer 1



「よけ」 should be 避ける(avoid/dodge). 「~しざま」 means "while / the moment / at the same time". It can be rephrased like 「~する際」 「~しながら」. So the sentence appears to be "he did something while he dodged the shuriken". It needs more context to be accurate.

さま2 【様・▽方】

[2] 現代では普通「ざま」の形をとる。動詞連用形に付く。
 (イ) …する瞬間、…すると同時の意を表す。

source: 大辞林 提供: 三省堂

  • Thanks for the answer :) I didn't want to cloud the question by adding extraneous information, but your translation makes sense :) Oct 2, 2012 at 0:46

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