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あのときは命からがらじゃった。
It was life and death that time.

I think I've translated the feeling of the sentence correctly but I can't fully understand the grammar.

First, I'm assuming じゃった is just old man speech for だった (it fits the character).

My main problem is that 命からがら, or just からがら, is adverbial, and there is no verb. I would expect to see 命からがら in a phrase like 命からがら逃げた ("I barely escaped with my life"), which has a verb.

This means that either I'm wrong about じゃった, or 命からがら can act as a noun, or there's something else I'm missing.

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    It's not much different from がっくりである in your other question. がっくり is also an adverb and usually modifies a verb.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 9 at 23:04

1 Answer 1

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I'm writing this without looking at any dictionary, but 命からがら is a noun (no-adjective) as well as an adverb on its own.

  • 命からがらでした。
  • 命からがらの撤退
  • 命からがらに逃げてきた。
  • 命からがら逃げてきた。

Other words that are like this include 突然, 偶然 and 本当.

  • 偶然でした。
  • 偶然の出会い
  • 偶然に知った。
  • 偶然知った。

I don't know other words ending with からがら, so 命からがら should be remembered as one word.

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