間に (aida ni) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N3]

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間に (aida ni) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N3]

The expression (あいだ)に (aida ni) joins the noun (あいだ), which means interval (of time), and the particle に.

(あいだ)に is used to indicate an action that takes place in the period of time between two events. For this reason, (あいだ)に is translated as during, while, in the period when.

There are also some additional expressions that use the kanji 間 and express the concept of time interval.

In this post we are going to learn the various uses and meanings of (あいだ)に through real examples of its use.


Do an action over a period of time with 間に

As mentioned, the main use of the expression (あいだ)に is to indicate a period of time in which an action is performed. (あいだ)に can be used after any kind of noun, verb, or adjective:

Verb+間に
Adjective[い]+間に
Adjective[な]++間に
Noun++間に

(あいだ)に expresses a momentary action performed in a period specified in the sentence. Let's see an example to better understand this nuance:

(わたし)
(ひま)
(あいだ)に、
(でん)()
かけて
ください。

Please call me while I'm free.

This example sentence indicates the action of making a call. This action is not continuous over time: making a call is a one-time action in the time period specified by (あいだ)に.

For this reason (あいだ)に expresses doing a single action (which begins and ends) in the indicated time period.

(あき)()
()(ども)
いない
(あいだ)
(ほん)
()む。

Akiko reads the book while the children are away.

In this second example we can better understand the nuance of meaning of (あいだ)に.

In this example, in fact, the use of (あいだ)に indicates that Akiko reads when the children are not there. Since (あいだ)に is used the action of reading is not continuous for as long as the children are away: Akiko reads when the children are away, but in the same period it does other things too, reading is not a continuous action all the time period.

During the whole time period with 間

(あいだ)に is often compared with (あいだ) (without the に particle). While (あいだ)に indicates an action that starts and ends in the indicated time period, (あいだ) indicates an action that instead continues for all the time.

Let's see an example to clarify this use:

スミスさん
日本(にほん)
いる
(あいだ)
(えい)()
(おし)えていました。

Mr. Smith taught English the entire time he was in Japan.

In this case the use of (あいだ) indicates that Mr. Smith continued to teach from the beginning to the end of his time in Japan. In this sense, the most appropriate literal translation is all the time.

"Until" with 間に

When (あいだ)に is used in sentences containing まで (up to), its meaning changes and translates to until. Let's also see an example here:

1pm
()
から
15()
まで
(あいだ)
(れん)(らく)
ください。

Please call us between 1pm and 3pm.

In this example, using まで in conjunction with (あいだ)に indicates the limit in a period of time. There is always the concept of interval expressed by (あいだ)に, but the use of まで extends this meaning by putting a time limit in the indicated period.

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