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あいだ (に)

あいだ (に)

あいだ (に) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: While / During / Between X and Y


  • Verb ている Form + あいだ (に)
    • E.g. はなしているあいだ [While X is speaking]
    • E.g. べているあいだ [While X is eating]
  • い-Adjective + あいだ (に)
    • E.g. たかあいだ [While X is expensive]
  • な-Adjective + な あいだ ( に)
    • E.g. しずかなあいだ [While X is quiet]
  • Noun + の あいだ (に)
    • E.g. 夏休なつやすみのあいだ [During summer vacation]
  • Noun 1 と Noun 2 (と) + のあいだ (に)
    • E.g. 一月いちがつ三月さんがつあいだ [Between January and March]


  • On its own, あいだ is a noun that means “space“, “gap“, or “interval“. But with verbs, adjectives, and durative nouns, あいだ (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 あいだ is typically non-past regardless of the tense of the main clause.
  • The particle indicates that the action in the main clause falls within the time span expressed in the subordinate あいだ 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), is appropriate, and if the main verb is a durative verb (i.e. a verb that acts over an extended duration), may be appropriate. When is absent, the action in the main clause is assumed to occur over the same time span that is expressed in the あいだ clause.
    • E.g. 夏休なつやすあいだ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 is absent, working at the restaurant is assumed to to place over the full span of summer vacation.
    • E.g. 夏休なつやすあいだ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 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]、すずしい [Cool / Refreshing], and あたたかい [Warm] may be used with あいだ (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. ながあいだはは手紙てがみいていません。[I haven’t written my mother a letter for a long time.]
  • With non-durative nouns, あいだ 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 あいだ, with the second being optional.
    • E.g. 日本にほんとアメリカとのあいだにはうみしかない。[Between Japan and America there is nothing but sea.]
    • E.g. クリスとぼくあいだ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 あいだ clause are different, the subject of the subordinate clause must be marked by rather than . This is generally true of subordinate clauses in Japanese.
    • E.g. 子供こどもたちがテレビをみているあいだわたしほんんでいました。[While the children were watching TV, I was reading a book.]. Note that (1) the subject of the subordinate clause (i.e. 子供こどもたち) is marked by , and the subject of the main clause (i.e. わたし) is marked by は, and (2) the 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 あいだ (に). The main difference is that あいだ (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.

Example Sentences:

わたしがごはんべているあいだ山田やまださんはテレビをていた。[While I was eating, Mr. Yamada was watching TV.]

わたしがごはんべているあいだ山田やまださんがた。 [While I was eating, Mr. Yamada came.]

ながあいだはは手紙てがみいていません。[I haven’t written my mother a letter for a long time.]

テレビとかべあいだ電気でんきコードがたくさんあります。[There are many cords between the TV and the wall.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:45: どこからはなすかな、きみねむていたあいだのストーリ [Where should I start? It’s a story of the time when your were asleep.]
Listen to this line at 0:26: あいだはさまれ次男じなん [The second oldest one is sandwiched in the space between]

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