How to Say “During”, “While” in Japanese – JLPT N4 Grammar: 間に
Sometimes when speaking in Japanese to your friends or peers at work, you may want to express “during” or “while”, but aren’t quite sure how to say it.
Maybe you already know the expression ながら – which also means “while” or “during” – from our 20 Must Know Grammar Points for the JLPT N4, that’s great! But like any grammatical point, it has it’s limits of use.
For example, you couldn’t use ながら to say “I want to climb Mt Fuji while I’m in Japan”.
But You Can Use 間に – Aida ni
How to Use 間に – What are the Rules for This JLPT N4 Grammar point?
間に (aida ni) can be used in variation with short form verbs, adjectives, and nouns. From the beginning of a designated time span to its end, 間に is used to cover a wide period of time in which something will take place of be done.
To use 間に in a sentence you simply put 間に after describing the time period, and before the action that takes place during the timespan.
Check out these examples:
Example: 間に with Short Form Verbs
Nihon ni iru aida ni fujisan ni nobotte kudasai
As Ichikawa-sensei explains in the video above, this sentence translates to something like “You should climb Mt. Fuji while you are in Japan” or “Please climb Mt. Fuji during your time in Japan.”
The listener is set to leave Japan next year, so they are being recommended to climb Mt. Fuji before they leave Japan to go back to America; during their time in Japan.
いる (iru) – to be/exist, is the short form verb of います (imasu). To use it with 間に, simply place it after the short form verb describing the timespan – in this case, the time in Japan. → 日本にいる間に
Then just follow that up with the action that takes place during the time period – in this case, climbing Mt. Fuji. → 日本にいる間に富士山に登る
In the example above, Ichikawa-sensei is making a suggestion or recommendation, so we change the verb ending to て (te-form) and add ください (please). → 日本にいる間に富士山に登ってください
“Please climb Mt. Fuji during your time in Japan.”
Example: 間に with Nouns – Just say の!
Kyuukei jikan no aida ni hirugohan wo tabeta
“I ate lunch during my break.”
In this example, the speaker uses 間に with a noun – 休憩時間 – to convey to the listener that they ate lunch during their break. So to use 間に with this noun, the speaker simply used the particle の (no) after 休憩時間, and then followed up with the action of eating lunch.
They explain that during their break time – 休憩時間の間に – they ate lunch. →休憩時間の間に昼ご飯を食べた
In other words, to use 間に with a noun, just say の between the noun and 間に.
Shizuka na aida ni hirune shimasu
“During the quiet period, I’ll take a nap.”
Good news: if you understand using 間に with nouns, you will be glad to hear that it’s very similar to using 間に with な-adjectives. In fact, it’s even easier.
As the example above shows, simply add 間に just after your な-adjective, in this case a quiet or tranquil period. → 静かな間に
Then say the action to be performed, which is to take a nap (昼寝). → 静かな間に昼寝します
Can I use 間に to Describe a Continous Action?
Grammatically, no, 間に can not be used to describe doing a continous action.
For example: 日本にいる間に富士山に登っています
You cannot use 間に in this way. You can, however, use it with a continous verb situation.
“While I was living in Japan, I climbed Mt. Fuji.”
Have fun impressing your Japanese friends and co-workers using 間に in your next conversation!