How to use うちに & うちは ( = uchi ni & uchiwa)

「明るいうちにいっぱい遊ぼうよ!」

= Akarui uchi ni ippai asobou yo!

= Let’s play a lot while it’s still light!

 

「子犬のうちはやりたいことを何でもやった方がいいんだって」

= Koinu no uchi wa yaritai koto wo nandemo yatta hou ga iin datte.

= I heard I should do anything I want while I am still a puppy.

 

Hi everyone!

I am your guest teacher Rey! 

まだ一歳だけど、子犬のうちに学べることはみんな学ぼうと思います。

= Mada issai dakedo koinu no uchi ni manaberu koto wa minna manabou to omoimasu.

= I’m still one year old but I am going to learn as much as possible while I am a puppy. 

Today we are going to study how to use うちに ( = uchini) which means “during/while ~”  

Let’s start!

How to form:

* noun + ( = no) + うちに ( = uci ni): during 

休みのうちに

= Yasumi no uchi ni

= during the vacation 

* i-adjecitve

~ ( = i) + うちに ( = uchini)

安いうちに= yasui uchi ni = while ~ is cheap 

* na-adjective

~ ( = na) + うちに ( = uchini)

きれいなうちに = kireina uchi ni = while ~ is beautiful 

* verb dictionary form + うちに ( = uchini) while ~ 

いるうちに ( = iru uchi ni)   while someone is somewhere 

*verb negative form

Vない ( = nai) + うちに( = uchini) 

いないうちに ( = inai uchi ni) while someone is not somewhere

Note: You don’t use うちに ( = uchini) with past tense verbs. (You can use past tense in main clauses.) 

* verb te-form ~て( = te) + いる( = iru) + うちに ( = uchini)

 寝ているうちに ( = nete iru uchi ni) while someone is sleeping 

negative form

* verb te-form ~て ( = te) + いない ( = inai)  + うちに ( = uchini)

見ていないうちに ( = mite inai uchi ni) while someone is not looking

* verb potential form + うちに ( = uchini)

書けるうちに = kakeru uchi ni = while ~  can write

***

How to use:

1) During some period of time

2) While someone is doing something/something is happening/ something/someone is in a certain state

3) Before something happens, before someone does something, something changes ~ 

****

You usually use うちに ( = uchini) to do something to take advantage of an opportunity.

So sentences that follow うちに ( = uchini) indicate what you should do, what you want to do, or describe some change or something that will happen

Note: There is a difference between  うちに ( = uchini) and 間に ( = aida ni) 

We studied  間に ( = aidani)  before. 

うちに ( = uchini) and 間に ( = aida ni)  are interchangeable in many sentences.

For example you can say both:

Ex. 休みの [うちに間に] 課題の本を読まなければならない。

= Yasumi no [uchi niaida ni] kadai no hon wo yomanakerebanaranai.

The translation is the same:

→ I have to read an assigned book during vacation.

Ex. 母が留守の[うちに間に] おやつを食べた。

= Haha ga rusu no [uchi niaida ni] oyatsu wo tabeta.

= I ate a snack while my mother was out.

Ex. 日本にいる[うちに間に] 日本語がうまくなりたい。

= Nihon ni iru [uchi niaida ni]  nihongo ga umaku naritai.

= I would like to improve my Japanese while I am in Japan.

間に ( = aidani) is used when the speakerwriter is aware of time, from when to when and it is a measurable time period.

So you can say

Ex. 暗くならないうちに家に帰りなさい。

=  Kuraku naranai uchi ni ie ni kaerinasai.

= Go home before it gets dark.

but you don’t say,

X 暗くならない間に家に帰りなさい。

= Kuraku naranai aida ni ie ni kaerinasai.

because you don’t know the exact time when it starts to get dark. 

Also you use 間に ( = aida ni) when you talk about on-going action, what has happened, during a certain period of time. 

Now let’s see how to use うちに ( = uchini) with example sentences.

1) During some period of time:

*with noun

You use the noun that indicates certain period of time. 

Ex. 休みのうちに読みたい本を全部読みたい。

= Yasumi no uchi ni yomitai hon wo zenbu yomitai.

= I would like to read all the books that I want to read.

Ex. 大学生のうちにやりたいことはなんでもやりなさい。

= Daigakusei no uchi ni yaritai koto wa nandemo yarinasai.

= Do anything you want to do while you are a college student.

Ex. 春休みのうちに免許を取りたい。

= Haruyasumi no uchi ni menkyo wo toritai.

= I would like to get my driver’s license during the spring break. 

Ex. 円高のうちにドルをもうちょっと買っておこう。

= Endaka no uchi ni doru wo mou chotto katte okou.

= I guess I should buy more dollars while the yen is high.

Ex. わからないことはその日のうちに聞いてください。

= Wakaranai koto wa sono hi no uchi ni kiite kudasai.

= Please ask me things you don’t understand by the end of the day.

Ex. 重要な仕事は朝のうちに済ませた方がいい。

= Juuyouna shigoto wa asa no uchi ni sumaseta hou ga ii.

= We should finish important work in the morning. 

Ex. 独身のうちに友達と海外旅行に行きたい。

= Dokushin no uchi ni tomodachi to kaigai ryokou ni ikitai.

= I would like to go abroad with my friends while I am single. 

Ex.「まだ、学校は、始まらないの?じゃあ、今のうちに楽しんでね!」(casual) 

= Mada, gakkou wa hajimaranai no? Jaa, ima no uchi ni tanoshinde ne.

= The school hasn’t started yet? Then enjoy yourself while you can. 

(今のうちに = ima no uchi ni = before it’s too late. / while one can

2) While someone does or is doing something, then something is happening. While something is in a certain state + do something or something must be done or someone wants to do something. 

The following verbs express one’s desire, what one wants to do, what one has to do or what something has become ~  (certain change). 

*with verb (plain form/potential form/passive form/present progressive form) 

Note: You can’t use this with past tense verbs.

Ex. カレンが日本にいるうちに一緒に京都に行こうよ。(casual) 

= Karen ga Nihon ni iru uchi ni issho ni Kyouto ni ikou yo.

= Let’s go to Kyoto with Karen while she is in Japan.

Ex. 働けるうちにできるだけ働いてのんびりとした老後を過ごしたい。

= Hatarakeru uchi dekirudake hataraite nonbiri to shita rougo wo sugoshitai.

= I want to work as much as I can while I can and spend peaceful days when I get older.

Ex. 息子さん、ずいぶん会わないうちに大人になりましたね

= Musukosan, zuibun awanai uchi ni otonappoku narimashita ne.

= Your son has become an adult in the time that I haven’t seen him. 

Ex. 考えているうちに誰が悪いのかわからなくなった。

= Kangaete iru uchi ni dare ga warui no ka wakaranaku natta.

= While I was thinking, I got confused as to whose fault it was.

Ex. その子は、お母さんを待っているうちに寝てしまった。

= Sonoko wa, okaasan wo matte iru uchi ni nete shimatta.

= The child fell asleep while he/she was waiting for his/her mother.

Ex. 友達と電話で話しているうちに夜が明けてしまった。

= Tomodachi to denwa de hanashite iru uchi ni yo ga akete shimatta.

= The day broke while I was talking to my friend on the phone. 

(I ended up talking with my friend on the phone until dawn came.)

Ex. 月が出ているうちにいい写真を撮らないと。

= Tsuki ga dete iru uchi ni ii shashin wo toranai to.

= I should take some good pictures while the moon is out.

*with adjective:

Ex. 温かいうちにどうぞ召し上がってください。

= Atatakai uchi ni douzo meshiagatte kudasai.

= Please help yourself while it’s hot.

Ex. トマトはまだ青いうちに収穫します。

= Tomato wa mada aoi uchi ni shuukaku shimasu.

= You pick/harvest the tomatoes while they are still green.

Ex. 明るいうちに家に帰りたい。

= Akarui uchi ni ie ni kaeritai.

= I want to go home while it’s still light. (before dark) 

Ex. まだ元気なうちに富士山に登ってみたい。

= Mada genkina uchi ni fujisan ni nobotte mitai.

= I would like to climb Mt.Fuji while I am still healthy. 

3) Before something happens, you have to or want to do something.

*with verb (negative form) 

Ex. 雨が降らないうちに帰らないといけない。

= Ame ga furanai uchi ni kaeranai to ikenai.

= I have to go home before it starts to rain.

Ex. 兄が帰らないうちにケーキを食べちゃおう。

= Ani ga kaeranai uchi ni keeki wo tabechaou.

= I am going to eat the cake before my older brother comes back.

Note: You can also say: [verb dictionary form] + 前に = mae ni)

雨が降る前に帰らないといけない。

= Ame ga furumae ni kaeranai to ikenai.

= I have to go home before it starts to rain.

兄が帰る前にケーキを食べちゃおう。

= Ani ga kaeru mae ni keeki wo tabechaou.

= I am going to eat the cake before my older brother comes back.

But you can’t rephrase the followings with 前に ( = maeni) 

Ex. 忘れないうちにこれ渡しておくね。(casual)

= Wasurenai uchi ni kore watashite okune.

= Before I forget, let me give it to you.

Ex. 知らないうちに雨が止んでいた。

= Shiranai uchi ni amega yande ita.

= It stopped raining before I knew it.

* with adjective:

Ex. コーヒ、冷めないうちに飲んでね。(casual) 

= Koohii, samenai uchi ni nonde ne.

= Please have the coffee before it gets cold.

Ex. 暗くならないうちに山を降りよう。

= Kuraku naranai uchi ni yama wo oriyou.

= I will go down the mountain before it gets dark.

Ex. 彼が本当に嫌いにならないうちに別れたい。

= Kare ga hontou ni kirai ni naranai uchi ni wakaretai.

= I want to break up with him before I start to hate him. 

You can express one’s regrets that they should have done something while/before ~ 

うちに ( = uchini ) +  Vばよかった ( ba yokatta) 

Ex. 父が生きているうちにもっと親孝行すればよかった

= Chichi ga ikite iru uchi ni motto oyakoukou sureba yokatta.

= I should have helped my father/been a better son/daughter while he was alive.

Ex. 若いうちにもっと勉強しておけばよかった

= Wakai chi ni motto benkyou shiteokeba yokatta.

= I should have studied more when I was younger.

You can also say  ~ うちに (  = uchini)  + ~ べきだった ( = bekidatta) to express your regrets.

Ex. 20代のうちにもっと海外に行くべきだった。

= Nijuudai no uchi ni motto kaigai ni iku beki datta.

= I should have gone abroad more when I was 20s.

* to tell someone what they should have done.

You can also use this pattern with のに ( = noni) to tell someone what they should have done while/before ~ 

うちに ( = uchini ) Vばよかった ( ba yokatta) + のに ( = noni)

→Ex. お父さんが生きているうちにもっと親孝行すればよかったのに

= Otousan ga ikite iru uchi ni motto oyakoukou sureba yokatta noni.

= You should have helped your father more/have been a better son/daughter while he was alive.

→Ex. 若いうちにもっと勉強をしておけばよかったのに。

= Wakai uchi ni motto benkyou wo shite okeba yokatta noni.

= You should have studied more while you were young. 

***

*~か~ないかのうちに = ~ ka ~ nai ka no uchi ni = as soon as ~ / right after ~

This is more advanced usage (JLPT N2 level)

*How to form:

verb plan form  +  ( = ka) + negative form ~ない ( = nai) + かのうちに ( = kano uchini) = as soon as you did ~ / right after you did something ~

乗る ( = noru ) to get on / to ride  + 乗らない ( = noranai) not to get on/not to ride

乗るか乗らないかのうちに

= Noru ka noranai ka no uchi ni

= as soon as one got on  ~ 

Ex. 私が車に乗るか乗らないかのうちに彼は車を出した。

= Watashi ga kuruma ni noru ka noranaika no uchi ni kare wa kuruma wo dashiki.

= He started the car right after I got in the car. 

Ex. 母が、「いいよ」と言うか言わないかのうちに弟は外に飛び出していった。

= Haha ga “iiyo” to iu ka iwanai ka no uchi ni otouto wa soto ni tobidashite itta.

= My younger brother rushed out the house as soon as my mother said OK. 

Ex. 生徒たちは授業が終わるか終わらないかのうちに教室からいなくなった。

= Seito tachi wa jugyou ga owaru ka owaranai ka no uchi ni kyoushitsu kara inaku natta.

= The students were gone as soon as the class was over.

Note: You use this form when someone did something right after something (Two actions are happening at almost the same time).

Thought the translation is “as soon as / right after” but you can’t talk about future/ something you want to do / ask someone to do something.

授業が終わるか終わらないかのうちにバイトに行こう。(not natural) 

= Jugyou ga owaru ka owarani ka no uchi ni baito ni ikou.

授業が終わったらすぐにバイトに行こう。

= Jugyou ga owattara sugu ni baito ni ikou.

家に着いたか着かないかのうちに電話をください。(not natural) 

= Ie ni tsuita ka tsukanai ka no uchi ni denwa wo kudasai.

家に着いたらすぐに電話をください。

= Ie ni tsuitara sugu ni denwa wo kudasai.

= Please call me as soon as you get home.

***

うちは  ( = uchi wa) while/ as long as  (you might just translate it as “when” depending on the context.)

You use the particle ( = wa) , that means you show the contrast with other time period. 

How to form:

* noun + ( = no)  +  うちは ( = uchiwa) = when ~ is/was ~

* verb (plain form/potential form/passive form/present progressive form) +  うちは ( = uchiwa)

* i-adjective    ~ ( = i) うちは ( = uchiwa) 

* na-adjecitve  ~ ( = na) うちは ( = uchiwa) 

Ex. 付き合い始めた最初のうちは彼も優しかったんだけど….

= Tsukiaihajimeta saisho no uchi wa kare mo yasashikattan dakedo…

= He was sweet at first when we started to date but…

Ex. 働けるうちは働いた方がいいですよ。

= Hatarakeru uchi wa hataraita hou ga ii desu yo.

= You should work while you can (work). 

Ex. 歩けるうちはできるだけ散歩に行きなさいと医者に言われた。

= Arukeru uchi wa dekirudake sanpo ni ikinasai to isha ni iwaareta.

= My doctor told me to take a walk as much as possible while I can (walk). 

Ex. 「レイ先生、日本語難しいです。」

= Rei sensei, nihongo muzukashii desu.

= Rei Sensei, Japanese is hard. 

「そんなことを言っているうちは上達しませんよ。」

= Sonna koto wo itteiru uchi wa joutatsu shimasen yo.

= It won’t improve while you are saying things like that.

Ex. お金があるうちは毎日、飲み歩いていたが、最近は家で飲むことが多い。

= Okane ga aru uchiwa mainichi, nomiaruite ita ga, saikin wa ie de nomu koto ga ooi.

= I used to go out for drink while I had money but I drink at home more now.

Ex. 部下に頼られているうちはまだいいが彼らが仕事を覚えると抜かされるかもしれない。

= Buka ni tayorarete iru uchi wa mada ii ga karera ga shigoto wo oboeru to nukasareru kamo shirenai.

= It is OK while my subordinators rely on me but once they learn their job, they might leave me behind. 

Ex. インフルエンザに感染していても症状が出ないうちは学校に行くので他の生徒にうつしてしまう。

= Infuruenza ni kansen shite itemo shoujou ga denai uchi wa gakkou ni iku node hoka no seito ni utsushite shimau. 

= Even though the students are infected with flu, they come to school while they don’ have any symptoms and give the flu to other students.

Ex. 子供が小さいうちはなかなか出かけることができない。

= Kodomo ga chiisai uchi wa nakanaka dekakeru koto ga dekinai.

= It is so easy to go out while my child is still small. 

Ex. 若くて元気なうちは健康診断なんて必要ないと思っていた。

= Wakakute genki na uchi wa kenkou shindan nante hitsuyou nai to omotte ita.

= I used to believe that I didn’t need to take a medical check-up when I was young and healthy.

***

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

Rey先生、ありがとう!

= Rey Sensei, arigatou!

= Thank you, Rei-sensei!

みんながこのサイトに来てくれているうちは私たちもがんばってレッスンを作りますよ。

= Minna ga kono saito ni kite kureteiru uchi wa watashitachi mo ganbatte ressun wo tsukurimasu yo.

= As long as you come visit this site, we will work hard making lessons.

***

I REALLY appreciate your support!  サポートありがとう! !CHECKHEART! 

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12 Comments

    1. Hi Sats
      From this explanation below?
      You use the particle は ( = wa) , that means you show the contrast with other time period.

      You use a particle は as a topic marker

      わたしはマギーです。

      And also when you show the contrast emphasizing what comes before.(contrast here means to compare, brings up the difference)
      (いつもはひまですが、)明日は忙しいです。(emphasizing 明日 and showing the contrast of いつも and 明日)

      うちは is the same thing.

      お金があるうちは毎日、飲み歩いていた

      お金があるとき (= going out for a drink every day) vs お金がないとき ( not going out for a drink every day. : It is not stated but it implies in the sentence.)

      Showing the contrast of お金があるとき (when one has money) and お金がないとき* (when one doesn’t have money).
      (*It is not mentioned in the sentence but the readers can tell what you

  1. Ex. 独身のうちに友達と海外旅行に行きたい。
    = I would like to go abroad while I am single.

    I guess you’re missing a friend part in english translation.

    Great lesson btw. Thanks a lot!

  2. This is so amazing, thank you. I have recently decided to try and seriously perfect my understanding of the language and this website clarifies plenty of what I am not understanding.

  3. Thank you very much for another rich lesson!😊
    I have only a little doubt: Are they interchangeable or not?

    1. Hi oniichan

      Basically you can’t use うちに in all the examples sentences of うちは. It shows the contrast.
      ~(A)~~ うちは〜(B)〜 →X うちに

      However you can use うちは in some of the sentences in (1) During some period of time:) with うちに

      Ex. 休みの [うちに/うちは] 課題の本を読まなければならない。
      Ex. 休みの [うちに/うちは]読みたい本を全部読みたい。
      Ex. 大学生の[うちに/うちは]やりたいことはなんでもやりなさい。
      Ex. 独身の[うちに/うちは]友達と海外旅行に行きたい。etc.

      The nuance difference is you use うちは when you want to show the contrast.

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