Wild Nihongo!
うちに

うちに

うちに Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Conjunction

Essential Meaning: While / Before / During

Construction: 

  • Stative Verb informal nonpast + うちに
    • E.g. いるうちに [While X is here]
    • E.g. はなせるうちに [While X is able to speak]
  • Verb informal negative nonpast + うちに
    • E.g. はなさないうちに [While X hasn’t yet spoken]
    • E.g. べないうちに [While X hasn’t yet eaten]
  • Verb Progressive Form + うちに
    • E.g. はなしているうちに [While X is speaking]
    • E.g. べているうちに [While X is eating]
  • い-Adjective informal nonpast + うちに
    • E.g. たかいうちに [While X is expensive]
  • な-Adjective Stem + なうちに
    • E.g. しずかなうちに [While X is quiet]
  • Durative Noun + のうちに
    • E.g. やすみのうちに [During Vacation]

Notes:

  • うちに in equivalent to the English “While” or “During” and expresses the general time frame during which a given action or state takes places. うちに is preceded by stative verbs (e.g. いる [To exist], progressive verbs (e.g. べている [Eating]), adjectives (e.g.たかい [Expensive]), or durative nouns (e.g. はる [Spring], 昼間ひるま [Daytime], 週間しゅうかん [Week]). The tense of the verb or adjective that precedes うちに is always nonpast regardless of the tense of the main clause.
    • E.g. Stative Verb: 前田まえださんはアメリカにいるうちに英語えいご上手じょうずになった。[While Maeda-san was in America, he became good at English.]
    • E.g Progressive Verb: はしっているうちにおなかがいたくなった。[While I was running, my stomach began to hurt.]
    • E.g. Adjective: わかいうちにほんをたくさんみなさい。[While you’re young, read many books.]
    • E.g. Durative Noun: やすみのうちによくておきます。[I will sleep a lot during my holiday.]
  • The verb before うちに is often negated to mean “Before X” or “While X is not yet the case“.
    • E.g. Negative Verb: わすれないうちに [While I have not yet forgotten / Before I forget]
    • E.g. Positive Verb: あたたかいうちにんでください。[Please drink it while it’s hot.]
  • うちに is distinct from あいだ. Specifically, あいだ indicates a time interval between two events or a time boundary within which some action takes place. However, in some situations it is impossible to define a discrete time boundary between two events. For example, in the sentence “I’ll play tennis before it rains“, it is impossible to know exactly when it will rain. Similarly, in the sentence “Please drink the beer while it’s still cold“, it’s impossible to put a time boundary on exactly when the beer will cease to be cold. うちに is used in such cases when the time boundary is not discreet.
    • E.g. あめらないうちにテニスをします[I’ll play tennis before it rains.]
    • E.g. つめたいうちにビールをんでください。[Please drink the beer while it’s still cold.]
  • Note that うちに can not be used after a noun that refers to an event (e.g. 授業じゅぎょう [Lesson] or 試合しあい [Match].) あいだ or ちゅうに are used in such cases instead.
    • E.g. *授業じゅぎょうのうちによく質問しつもんをした[I asked many questions during class.] うちに can not be used after a noun that refers to an event.
    • E.g. 授業じゅぎょうちゅうによく質問しつもんをした[I asked many questions during class.]
    • E.g. 授業じゅぎょうあいだによく質問しつもんをした[I asked many questions during class.]
    • E.g. *試合しあいのうちにあめってきた[It began to rain during the game.] うちに can not be used after a noun that refers to an event.
    • E.g. 試合しあいちゅうあめってきた[It began to rain during the game.]
    • E.g. 試合しあいあいだあめってきた[It began to rain during the game.]

Example Sentences:

前田まえださんはアメリカにいるうちに英語えいご上手じょうずになった[While Maeda-san was in America, he became good at English.]

なにもしないうちに今年ことしわった[Before I achieved anything, the year finished.]

はしっているうちにおなかがいたくなった[While I was running, my stomach began to hurt.]

わかいうちにほんをたくさんみなさい [While you’re young, read many books.]

あめらないうちにテニスをします[I’ll play tennis before it rains.]

わすれないうちにっておきたいことがある[There’s something I want to tell you before I forget.]

かんがえているうちにわからなくなった。[While I was thinking, I forgot.]

はたらけるうちにできるだけはたらきたい。[I want to work as hard as I can while I am able to work.]

あたたかいうちにんでください。[Please drink it while it’s hot.]

やすみのうちによくておきます。[I will sleep a lot during my holiday.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:52, listen for this line: ひるぎゃくらしをつづけて、流行はやりのディスコでおどあかかすうち [I continued a life with day and night reversed while dancing the night away at fashionable discos] Note that the two clauses in this example are reversed for artistic reasons. Typically, the うちに clause would come first.

***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.***