JLPT N3 Grammar – ついでに (How to say "While you are there…" in Japanese)


Japanese is a very nuanced language.  By now, you have probably realized this – especially if you are studying at a JLPT N3 level.  Although you may be familiar with the Japanese word ながら (nagara), meaning “while”, there is a similar nuanced expression you may not be familar with. JLPT N3 Grammar: ついでに (tsuide ni) – meaning “taking the opportunity to do something while doing something else.”
In this article, we will examine this JLPT grammar point, look at how to use it with some examples.  First watch Yuka-sensei’s video above, and then recap with this article!

How to Use JLPT N3 Grammar: ついでに

If you are familiar with ながら (nagara), then ついでに (tsuide ni) should be easy as it is only a step away.
While “nagara” is used to refer to generally doing action A while doing action B, “tsuide ni” implies that whoever is performing the actions is taking the opportunity to do action B while doing action A.
The form is:
Action A (plain form) + ついでに + action B.
One major difference you may notice is that when using ついでに, action A is the main action, while action B is the thing being done in addition to action A.  This is backwards from the grammatical structure of ながら, since the main action comes at the end of the sentence.
Let’s look at some examples.

Example 1

田中さん:ちょっと昼ご飯を買いに、コンビニに行きますね。
Tanakasan : chotto hiru go han o kai ni, konbini ni kai ni ikimasu ne.
Tanaka-san : I’m going to the convenience store to buy some lunch.
Yuka先生 : あ、田中さん、すみません!コンビニに行くついでに、私のコーヒーも買ってくれませんか?
Yukasensei : a, tanaka san, sumimasen! Konbini ni iku tsuide ni, watashi no kōhii mo katte kuremasen ka?
Yuka-sensei : Ah, sorry Tanaka-san! While you’re going to the convenience store, could you buy me some coffee as well?
This is a great example of ついでに being used as a request.  Going to the convience store is clearly the main action.  But as opposed to sentence the Japanese grammar point ながら, the extra action goes at the end of the sentence – after ついでに.
It also implies that action B is related somehow to action A, the primary action.  With this way of phrasing, ついでに makes the action B request sound more doable since it is not out of the way from doing action A.

Example 2

薬局に行ったついでに、トイレットぺーパーを買いました。
Yakkyoku ni itta tsuide ni, toiretto pēpā o kaimashita.
While I was at the pharmacy, I also bought some toilet paper.
This example also clearly shows the correlation between the two actions – whereas with “nagara” the 2 actions do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.
Although going to the pharmacy is the main action, Yuka-sensei adds on buying toilet paper.  This is done while at the pharmacy, so the two actions are related.
What other examples can you think of?

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