N3 grammar question

Hi everyone.

I was wondering if someone can explain how to use 間 and 間に. My book gives a very short explanation so im not really sure. Also is there a english phrase that is similar to this?

Thank you :slight_smile:

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I don’t have it to hand right now, but the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is good on this. (In general that dictionary series is very good at providing more detailed explanations.)

The main underlying distinction is that 間に is when you do something or something happens at some point within the time that the ~間に condition is going on, whereas 間 indicates the whole span of time when it’s going on.


Thanks for the explanation.i think 間 is ok but 間に is still a little confusing.

Is my understanding correct in this example-


Japanese ppl nod repeatedly during a conversation.and because it uses 何回も , aida is the correct answer.

Ex 2

自分が話している間に、日本人が相槌を打つと 話を止められたと誤解する人もいる

I dont get which event happens only once in example 2?The misunderstanding ?

Example 3


Here the continuous action is watching tv and zutto is a clue?

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To me it looks like a case of a dropped particle. It’s not strictly grammatical to have a noun follow another noun but is natural in casual conversation. I think 間 and 間に are equivalent.

The 相槌を打つ is a non continuous event that happens at a single point within the span of time where 自分が話している.


Thank you, i more or less understand it now :slight_smile:

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Can corroborate. We had both in class recently and that’s how our teacher explained it as well.

@paintjob our teacher also used a graph to show it

A ----------------------- B - activity 1 間、activity 2
A ---------- ・ --------- B - activity 1 間に activity 2 happens at the point ・


I think it makes intuitive sense if you consider the locative use of に. Like if you say 高校に it means “within/towards the school” as in “within/towards a specific spot in the school” not “all over the school”. It sets the boundaries where something is located.


To be honest, it took me a while to get there, because I would often see both forms in books and there wasn’t enough context to make it clear it’s one or the other. Or at least I didn’t notice the difference when learning via immersion.

Yeah frankly while the theory seems simple enough the nuance in the two “Japanese people nodding” sentences given by @paintjob above is rather subtle for me. I definitely see why you want に in the 2nd, but I’m not entirely sure I get why you couldn’t also use に in the first.


Mmm, it’s one of those where I’m more arriving at the answer by logic than by “that sounds right”, but I think with 日本人は相手の話を聞いている間、何回も頷く the meaning is that the nodding is distributed evenly throughout the listening, but with 間に it would sound more like at some point in the middle of listening they suddenly had a burst of lots of nods.