"Interval" readings

Hi WK community,

I’m on level 8 and today I learnt 間.

The reading notes say - when 間 refers to a longer interval of time, it’s generally read as あいだ. For a short burst of time, it’s read as ま. When it means an interval of space, it’s usually read as あいだ.

I checked the context sentences on Google Translate:

  1. たいてい、ねているは、だんぼうを切ります。
    Usually, I turn off the heater while I’m sleeping.

間 here is read as “ma” even though sleeping is a longer interval of time.

  1. そのに、いそいでひるごはんをかきこみました。
    Meanwhile, I shoved my lunch in my mouth.

間 here is read as “a i da” even though meanwhile seems like a short burst of time.

So it appears that the readings are the other way round? What have I misunderstood here? :disappointed_relieved:
Do you guys have better context examples to explain the difference between the two readings?

Thanks! ^-^

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By “it’s read as” you mean you’re just basing that on google translate?

I would read both of those as あいだ. Google translate just isn’t that great. (Not that I’m perfect either, though)

いつの間に is an example of ま, but often that’s not written using kanji.
間もなく is another one.

To me ま is usually just used in these set expressions, even if it’s technically possible for it to be used elsewhere.


Like Leebo said, Google Translate is really unreliable. Although it learns languages over time through user feedback and other means, it’s not going to give you the correct reading or meaning pretty often.

I was going to suggest checking context sentences available on a bilingual dictionary, like weblio, but it doesn’t appear to have furigana. The problem with Jisho.org is that the example sentences there come from a database that’s hit or miss.

Do you know any bilingual dictionaries with good context sentences and furigana or at least some pronunciation guides, @Leebo ? Or anyone else?

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I don’t know about bilingual dictionaries, but monolingual ones like weblio.jp (or 大辞林, which is an app I’m using) usually have different entries for the different readings. You can assume that all the examples under ま【間】 are also read ま:



I found an interesting explanation in this Quora post in the answer by Nicky Sekino (a few answers down):

When it is pronounced “aida”, the meaning is that something got squeezed in between.

When it is pronounced “ma”, the meaning is about timing.

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Ah, I was using this version of weblio https://ejje.weblio.jp/ so that’s probably what the problem was.

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