あいだ (に) Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Phrase
Essential Meaning: While / During / Between X and Y
- Verb ている Form + 間 (に)
- E.g. 話している間に [While X is speaking]
- E.g. 食べている間に [While X is eating]
- い-Adjective + 間 (に)
- E.g. 高い間に [While X is expensive]
- な-Adjective + な 間 ( に)
- E.g. 静かな間に [While X is quiet]
- Noun + の 間 (に)
- E.g. 夏休みの間に [During summer vacation]
- Noun 1 と Noun 2 (と) + の間 (に)
- E.g. 一月と三月の間に [Between January and March]
- On its own, 間 is a noun that means “space“, “gap“, or “interval“. But with verbs, adjectives, and durative nouns, 間 (に) indicates the time frame during which a certain action or state takes place (e.g. “While I was sleeping“; “During summer vacation“). The grammar that precedes 間 is typically non-past regardless of the tense of the main clause.
- The に particle indicates that the action in the main clause falls within the time span expressed in the subordinate 間 clause rather than occupying the full time span. Thus, if the main verb is a punctual verb (i.e. a verb that acts over a short duration), に is appropriate, and if the main verb is a durative verb (i.e. a verb that acts over an extended duration), に may be appropriate. When に is absent, the action in the main clause is assumed to occur over the same time span that is expressed in the 間 clause.
- E.g. 夏休みの間レストランでアルバイトをしました。[I worked part time at a restaurant all throughout summer vacation.] Because に is absent, working at the restaurant is assumed to to place over the full span of summer vacation.
- E.g. 夏休みの間にガールフレンドができました。[At some point during summer vacation, I found a girlfriend.] Because に is present, finding a girlfriend is assumed to take place at some point within the span of summer vacation.
- Certain adjectives such as かわいい [Cute]、涼しい [Cool / Refreshing], and 暖かい [Warm] may be used with 間 (に) in the same manner that verbs are used, but it generally sounds more natural to use うちに with adjectives instead.
- E.g. 長い間母に手紙を書いていません。[I haven’t written my mother a letter for a long time.]
- With non-durative nouns, 間 represents a physical space between two things (e.g. “The space between the TV and the wall“) or the emotional space between two people (e.g. “The relationship between Peter and Lauren“). This structure takes the form Noun1と Noun2 (と) の 間, with the second と being optional.
- E.g. 日本とアメリカとの間には海しかない。[Between Japan and America there is nothing but sea.]
- E.g. クリスと僕の間はけっしてわるくない。[The relationship between Chris and me is not bad at all.]
- If the subjects of the main clause and the subordinate 間 clause are different, the subject of the subordinate clause must be marked by が rather than は. This is generally true of subordinate clauses in Japanese.
- E.g. 子供たちがテレビをみている間、私は本を読んでいました。[While the children were watching TV, I was reading a book.]. Note that (1) the subject of the subordinate clause (i.e. 子供たち) is marked by が, and the subject of the main clause (i.e. 私) is marked by は, and (2) the に particle is absent, indicating that the mother read a book throughout the full time span of the kids watching TV.
- ながら is similar to but not identical to 間 (に). The main difference is that 間 (に) emphasizes the time frame of some state or action, while ながら emphasizes the fact that some major action / state occurs concomitantly with some minor action / state.
私がご飯を食べている間山田さんはテレビを見ていた。[While I was eating, Mr. Yamada was watching TV.]
私がご飯を食べている間に山田さんが来た。 [While I was eating, Mr. Yamada came.]
長い間母に手紙を書いていません。[I haven’t written my mother a letter for a long time.]
テレビと壁の間に電気コードがたくさんあります。[There are many cords between the TV and the wall.]
***YouTube videos may be region-locked depending on your country of origin. If you experience issues, please try using a VPN set to a United States IP address.***