Recently I encountered this sentence in the novel 四畳半神話大系:


The context is that the speaker is a god, who is chastising the main character for not knowing who he is, despite living near his shrine.

The ~ておきながら construction here confused me. I know the usage of ~ながら for contrast as in "although", "despite", etc. But I didn't understand what ~ておく was doing here, which I know to be typically used for doing something in advance or doing something temporarily or for now, none of which seem to fit this context of 住んでいる。

Googling brought me to this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWJrYqAm3Co, as well as this Q and A https://hinative.com/questions/9047129 in which I discovered that apparently ~ておいて・~ておきながら are grammar patterns that I have never heard of, which also serve the function of contrast.

So I can more or less understand their use now, but what confuses me is that I cannot find much other "official" references to these grammar patterns. And this use of おく to me does not really align with its typical usages.

I wonder if someone can help me better understand the function of おく here. And it would be nice if someone could point me to these grammar points referenced in something more concrete like a textbook or something.


1 Answer 1


The core image is shared with the normal usage. You do something in preparation for something that you expect to happen.

However, in this usage, [V て-form]-おく is always followed by something that goes contrary to the speaker’s expectations. Even the normal て-form conjunction ([V て-form]-おいて) works adversatively in this case. What follows is something the speaker thinks the doer of the action (the main character in your case, with the action being 住む) should be prepared for but turned out not to be. The god is accusing the main character for not knowing him (or for not being prepared for that knowledge) despite living near his shrine. It doesn’t mean the main character chose to live there in preparation for anything. He just lives there. The action and the expectations are linked in the speaker’s mind.

  • Thanks this helps in squaring away the use of おく here. How common you say the ~ておいて and ~ておきながら are used? Would they be still natural in colloquial conversation, or are they mostly literary? My impression is that these are not that common, since I can't find that many details about them and this is the first time I've encountered their usage...
    – octosquakk
    Mar 31, 2023 at 19:39
  • @octosquakk - It's definitely not literary. It's used commonly enough in normal conversation, especially 〜ておいて. It often gets contracted to 〜といて. It's used to blame someone, often the second person directly, like 〜といてよくそんなこと言えるな/ね. There's also 〜ておいてなんだけど to start saying or asking something you think the listener might not expect you to say or ask because of what you have already done. Don't ask me what なん (何) means here. It's hard to explain...
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 31, 2023 at 21:37
  • I think that I am realizing that I have probably been accidentally misreading as ~といて as ~と言って in many cases for a long time...thanks again for the new insight.
    – octosquakk
    Mar 31, 2023 at 22:21

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