Hiromi Sensei

Japanese Lessons, Travel, Food

The kanji あいだ, 間, stands for a space between two items. You must have learned あいだ  as a meaning  of “between” either two locations or two different times to describe a length of time or a space between things.  In addition, あいだ roughly translates to “during the time.” In this lesson, we are going to learn あいだ to describe a certain period of time; you take an action during the time something else might be happening.  

かつよう 活用 Conjugations

Affirmative: ~ている (short present continuous form) +あいだ



Negative: ~ていない (negative short present continuous form) + あいだ


The most-common usage of a verb, with aida, is its present continuous form, so that is what we’ll focus on in this lesson.

れいぶん 例文Example sentences:

Verb + あいだ(に

おかあさんが ねているあいだに おさけをのんだ。


“I drank alcohol while my mother was asleep.”

みずきさんが かいものに いっているあいだに へやを かたづけてください。


Please tidy up the room while mizuki is gone shopping.

This implies you need to spend some time to tidy up the room while mizuki is gone shopping, but not necessary the whole time she is away because it only points out a point of time.

A Note on “に”

あいだ is a noun and is treated as a time frame. Therefore, you can add に as a particle afterwards when you are specifying a point of time (Recall when you say ごじに for “at 5pm). When you describe a situation where you were doing something the whole time the other action was happening, then you do not use particleに because the time frame the main action takes place is not a point of time, but rather, the main action continued the entire time that is specified with あいだ. 

An example sentence for this situation without にis like this: 

いもうとが シャワーを あびているあいだ、わたしはテレビを みていた。


I was watching TV while my sister was taking a shower.

As you can see above, you were watching TV the whole time your sister was taking a shower.

Using が and は for subjects

As you can see the sentence above, there are two different particles, が and は after the subjects. To distinguish between が and は is one of the hardest grammar points, even for advanced students. They look random because you see both after the subjects. However, it has a clear rule to its usage; using a wrong particle can change the meaning or nuance of the sentence.

In this lesson, we talk about the basic idea of the two particles when you place them after subject nouns. You want to use はafter the subject which indicates a topic /theme of the sentence.

Let’s use the sentence above as an example. What the sentence saying “I was watching TV while my sister took a shower” is doing is that you are talking about yourself. The focus is not your sister but yourself. That means the topic of the sentence is you. Therefore, you need to use は after わたし. On the other hand, the other subject in the sentence, your sister is not a center of the topic here, but you need to specify who is the subject of the verb “to take a shower.”  In this case, you use がas a particle for that subject.   There are some exceptions to its use, but this is the fundamental idea of the particles はand がfor subjects when you make a sentence with two clauses (multiple) and two (multiple) subjects in the sentence.

Here are some other examples with different subjects in a sentence; One is a topic of the sentence and the other isn’t.

Note that in this lesson, because of its structure, you always see a subject withはand a primary verb of the sentence in a “non-When” clause, and a subject withが always comes with  “when” clause.  

ともだちが  がっこうで にほんごのじゅぎょうを うけているあいだ、(わたしは)そとでまっています。


I will be waiting outside while (my) friend is taking a Japanese class at school.

わたしが りょうりをしているあいだ、ともだちは でんわで はなしていました。


While I was cooking, my friend was talking on the phone.

With this type of sentence, we often see in a different sentence structure without changing the meaning of the sentence; you put “my friend” at the beginning of the sentence. Often times, it is difficult for Japanese learners to recognize the structure and the meaning of the sentence, or it can be challenging to determine which subject belongs to which verb. Remember that the subject with はconnects to the primary verb which will comes later in the sentence. Now you can see why some sentences has two subjects in a row, but you can distinguish which subject connects to which verb by following the rule.

ともだちは  わたしがりょうりしているあいだ、 でんわではなしていました。   


My friend was talking on the phone while I was cooking.

Noun +の+ あいだ(に)

あいだ itself is a noun, so we use the particleの to relate the two nouns.

なつやすみのあいだに、たくさん べんきょうを するつもりです。


“I plan to/ intend to study Japanese a lot during the summer break.”

わたしは ふゆのあいだ どこにも いきませんでした。


I did not go anywhere during winter.

あいだ as a Conditional:

If, for example, you want to emphasize when an action should, or should not occur, you can use the particle “は,”. は emphasizes topics related by あいだ in the same way は emphasizes topics in normal sentences. Note that in this case, primary action of the sentence in English is described in a clause without “while”.

くるまが はしっているあいだは、 みちをわたらないでください。


“Please don’t across the road while cars are running.”

Key point:  Difference between nagara and aida

First, ながら is only used when the subject is the same, the same person is doing two actions. あいだ can be used when you want to describe what is happening outside of your main activity. When you want to be sneaky and secretly do something secret while others are asleep, that’s when you use あいだ instead of ながら.  Secondly, a clause with primary action in both English and Japanese sentences is described without あいだ is the same, unlike in the case of ながら;ながら is connected to sub-action in Japanese.

 Lastly, when you use あいだ, there are two patterns to describe how an action takes place: with or without the particle に.  For ながら you don’t need a particle afterwards.

れんしゅう 練習 Exercises:

Please complete sentences below.

1. I am going to wait for you while you have a meeting with your boss.


2. Please do not stand up during the meal.


3. I have to do my homework while my sister goes to the gym.


4. Please watch out for burglars (especially) while I am not at home.


5. My friend baked a cake for me while I was sleeping.


たんご 単語 Vocabulary

おさけ お酒 Alcohol

へや 部屋     Room

ふゆ 冬      Winter

かいぎ 会議      Meeting, Conference

じょうし 上司     Boss, Supervisor

たちあがる 立ち上がる     Stand up

どろぼう 泥棒     Burglar

みち 道      Path,  Road

やく 焼く   Bake

ジム Gym

かいとうれい 解答例 Example answers:

1.(あなたが)じょうしと かいぎをしている あいだ、(わたしは)まちますよ。(まっています。)

2. しょくじのあいだ たたないでください。(たちあがらないで ください。)

3. (わたしは)おねえちゃんがジムにいっているあいだに しゅくだいをしなきゃいけない。

4.わたしが いえに いないあいだは、どろぼうにきをつけてください。

5. ともだちは わたしが ねているあいだに あいだに ケーキを やいてくれました。