Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 10: 4/20


Accidentally, Unconsciously, Against one's better judgement

Usually ends with てしまう


つい + Phrase


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About つい

Appearing most frequently at the beginning of sentences, つい is an adverb that may be translated as 'accidentally', 'unconsciously', 'absentmindedly', or 'against one's better judgment'. つい will often be paired with statements that use てしまう, to emphasize that something was unintentional.
  • ごめんタケシ(くん)クッキー()(まえ)あったからつい()てしまった。
    Sorry Takeshi-kun, your cookie was right in front of me, so I absentmindedly ate it.
  • 先生(せんせい)(おこ)られるつい(わら)ちゃうね。
    When I am being scolded by the teacher, I unconsciously laugh.
  • 運転中(うんてんちゅう)携帯(けいたい)使(つか)たらだめなの()かっているんだけど、メールが()つい携帯(けいたい)()ちゃう
    I know that I shouldn't use my phone while driving, but when I get a text I unconsciously look at my phone.
Fun Fact
Although 'accidentally' is the most common meaning of つい, it actually may be used to convey three different nuances. These are as follows:
はからず - Something that is uncalculated.
(おも)わず - Something that is not thought about.
距離(きょり)わずかなさま - A small gap/interval.
In each of these meanings, つい keeps a sense of time being the most important factor. Due to this, つい will give the impression that whatever resulted in the 'accidental' action, will be something that happened momentarily. This is very close to the meaning of 'lapse' in English. 'a lapse in time', 'a lapse in judgment', 'a lapse in forethought'.
  • (はや)()きて準備(じゅんび)てもつい(おく)てしまう
    Even if I wake up early to get ready, I'll be late due to a lapse of time.
  • 電車(でんしゃ)(おく)れるついイライラしてしまう
    When the train is late, I'll get angry due to a lapse in judgment.
  • (なか)()いていなくても()(まえ)()(もの)があるつい()てしまう
    Even if I am not hungry, if there is food in front of me, I will eat it due to a lapse of forethought.




    Against my better judgment, I eat ice cream while on a diet.


    Since I am not supposed to laugh, it feels like I might accidentally laugh.


    While driving, I become unconsciously inattentive.


    Saying things like: 'I unconsciously eat too much' is just an excuse.


    I always find myself unconsciously fiddling with my smartphone while I am working.

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