あいだ(に)[aida ni] Basic Japanese Grammar

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㊦ 間・あいだ(に) Phrase

The space between two temporal or physical points.

Meaning: During (the time when); while

Key Sentences Examples

  1. 私がご飯を食べている山田さんはテレビを見ていた・いました。
    Watashi ga gohan o tabeteiru aida Yamadasan wa terebi o miteimashita.
    While I was eating my meal, Mr. Yamada was watching TV.
  2. 私がご飯を食べている間に山田さんが来た・来ました。
    Watashi ga gohan o tabeteiru aida ni Yamadasan ga kimashita.
    While I was eating my meal, Mr. Yamada came in.

Formation

(i)Vている間(に)
iru aida (ni)
話している間(に)
hanashite iru aida (ni)
While someone is talking
食べている間(に)
tabete iru aida (ni)
While someone is eating
(ii)Adjective い間(に)
aida (ni)
高い間(に)
takai aida (ni)
While something is expensive
(iii)Adjectiveな stemな 間(に)
na aida (ni)
静かな間(に)
shizukana aida (ni)
While something is quiet
(iv)Nounの間(に)
no aida (ni)
夏休みの間(に)
natsuyasumi no aida (ni)
During the summer vacation

Examples

1. スミスさんは日本にいる英語を教えていました。
Sumisu-san wa Nihon ni iru aida eigo o oshiete imashita.
Mr. Smith was teaching English (all during the time) while he was in Japan.

2. 子供たちがテレビおを見ている私は本を読んでいた。
Kodomotachi ga terebi o mite iru aida watashi wa hon o yondeimashita.
I was reading a book (all during the time) while my children were watching TV.

3. 高橋さんはアメリカにいるにゴルフを覚えました。
Takahashi-san wa Amerika ni iru aida ni gorufu o oboemashita.
Mr. Takahashi learned golf while he was in America.

4. 中川さんのお母さんは中川さんがパリに留学している間に病気になりました。
Nakagawa-san no okaasan wa Nakagawa-san ga Pari ni ryuugakushite iru aida ni byouki ni narimashita.
Mr. Nakagawa’s mother became ill while he was studying in Paris.

5. 秋子は子供がいない間に本を読む。
Akiko wa kodomo ga inai aida ni hon o yomu.
Akiko reads books while her children are not at home.

Notes

1. The subjects for the -clause (=subordinate clause) and the main clause can be different as in Exs. (b), (d) and (e) or can be the same as in Exs. (a) and (c). When the subjects are different, the subject in the -clause is marked not by は but by が.2

2. The verb before is normally nonpast Vている or いる regardless of the tense of the main clause.

3. 間, if followed by , a particle of specific time point, means that the time span of an event identified by the main clause falls within the time span of an event identified by the -clause, as in Exs. (c) and (e). without , as in Exs. (a) and (b), indicates that the two events are assumed to cover the same span of time. Thus, if the main verb is a punctual verb, should be used with . The following sentence, therefore, is ungrammatical.

(1)

  • *山田さんがパリに留学しているお母さんが病気になった。
  • *Mr. Yamada’s mother became ill (all during the time) while he was studying in Paris.

The difference between 間に and can be diagrammed as follows:

4. A noun or an adjective can be used before .

  1. 休みのレストランでアルバイトをしました。
    Natsuyasumi no aida resutoran de arubaito o shimashita.
    During the summer vacation I worked part time at a restaurant.
  2. 休みの間にガールフレンドが出来ました。
    Natsuyasumi no aida ni gaarufurendo ga dekimashita.
    During the summer vacation I found a girl friend.
  3. 長い母に手紙を書いていません。
    Nagai aida haha ni tegami o kaite imasen.
    I haven’t written to my mother for a long time.
  4. 若い間に本を出来るだけたくさん読みなさい。
    Wakai aida ni hon o dekiru dake takusan yominasai.
    Read as many books as you can while you are young.

5. The non-temporal which means ‘space between’ or ‘relationship’ is used in the structure A と B (と) の間 ‘between A and B’ as in:

  1. 日本とアメリカ(と)の間には海しかない。
    Nihon to Amerika (to) no aida ni wa umi shika nai.
    There is only ocean between Japan and America.
  2. 山口と僕(と)のは決して悪くない。
    Yamaguchi to boku (to) no aida wa kesshite warukunai.
    The relationship between Yamaguchi and me is not bad at all.

The usage of meaning ‘relationship’ in (ii) above is a metaphorical extension of physical space between two persons.

6. The verb いる ‘(an animate object) exists’ can be used by itself, as in Example (3), due to its stative nature. Some adjectives such as 高い ‘expensive’, 安い ‘cheap’, 暖かい ‘warm’, 涼しい ‘cool’, 若い ‘young’ can also be used in this way, as follows:

  1. 若い間にスポーツをいろいろした方がいいです。
    Wakai aida ni supootsu o iroiro shita hou ga iidesu.
    It’s better to do various sports while you are young.

These adjectives, however, sound a little more natural with うちに ‘while ‘.

Related Expression

If the subjects of the main and subordinate clauses are identical and if the verbs are action verbs, can be replaced by ながら but with different meaning.

[1]

雪子はご飯を食べているテレビを見ていた。
Yukiko wa gohan o tabete iru aida terebi o mite ita.
Yukiko was watching TV while she was eating her meal.

[2]

 

雪子はご飯を食べながらテレビを見ていた。
Yukiko wa gohan o tabenagara terebi o mite ita.
Literally: Yukiko was primarily watching TV, although simultaneously she was eating her meal. (=Yukiko was eating her meal while watching TV.)

[1] and [2] focus on ‘duration of some action/state’ and ‘accompanying minor action’, respectively.

 

 

Source: Makino & Tsutsui, Basic Japanese Grammar page. 67.

 

 

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