How to use 中 ( = chuu )



= Nee, koko aite iru kara chotto nozoite mo ii?

= Hey, this store is open. Can I take a peek?

Hi everyone! Happy New Year!!! This is your first lesson of the year here.

You will have lots of lessons this year. Are you ready?

OK, today’s lesson for beginners. I will teach you how/when to use 

First, let’s look at the kanji.



⭐️How to read the kanji


* 訓読み ( = kun yomi) kun-reading

:rrrr: なか = naka

* 音読み ( = on yomi) on-reading 

:rrrr: ちゅう/じゅう = chuu/juu

*the meaning: “middle / center/inside

This is one of the easiest kanji. Even I can write it!



maggie 中

But there are some important ways to use it so here we go. !DANCING!

1) location: in / inside

*箱の中 =  hako no naka = in a box, inside of a box

Ex. 箱のには何が入っていますか?

= Hako no naka ni wa nani ga haitte imasu ka?

= What’s inside the box?

*教室の中 = kyoushitsu no naka =  in the classroom

Ex. 教室のには生徒が5人だけいた。

= Kyoushitsu no naka ni wa seito ga gonin dake ita.

= There were only five students in the classroom.

*建物の中 =  tatemono naka  =  in/ inside of the building

Ex. この建物のにはエレベーターがありません。

= Kono tatemono no naka ni wa erebeetaa ga arimasen.

= There are no elevators in the building.

Ex. にどうぞお入り下さい。

= Naka ni douzo ohairi kudasai.

= Please come in.

*頭の中 =  atama no naka =  in one’s head, in one’s mind

Ex. 頭のは、仕事のことでいっぱいだ。

= Atama no naka wa, shigoto no koto de ippai da.

= I am preoccupied with work.

2) location: middle, center / center of attention, activity, etc.

*真ん中 = mannaka = right in the middle

Ex. あの二人は道の真んでずっとおしゃべりしている。

= Ano futari wa michi no mannaka de zutto oshaberi shiteiru.

= Those two have been chatting in the middle of the street for a long time.

*= chuushin = center

Ex. 円の心  = en no chuushin = middle of a circle

Ex. 世界の心  = sekai no chuushin  = in the center of the world

Ex. 話題の心  = wadai no chuushin = focus of interest

Ex.心人物  = chuushin jinbutsu = the central figure

3) during a certain period of time, the entire/the whole/throughout+ certain period of time , from the beginning to the end

*午前= gozenchuu = in the morning/ during the morning

Ex. 午前ずっと寝ていた。

= Gozenchuu zutto nete ita.

= I was sleeping in all the morning

*一日中 =  ichinichijuu = all day long

Ex. 一日、ゲームをしていた。

= Ichinichijuu, geimu wo shiteita.

= I was playing a game the whole day.

Ex. ハワイは一年暖かい。

= Hawai wa ichinenjuu atatakai.

= Hawaii is warm throughout the year.

Ex. 今日に返事を下さい。

= Kyoujuuu ni henji wo kudasai .

= Please give me your answer by the end of today.

4) all over, everywhere, the whole ~

Note: To avoid some confusion, we tend to use hiragana. ちゅう ( = chuu) /じゅう ( = juu)

Ex. 中 (家じゅう)* 探したがどこにもなかった。

= Uchijuu sagashita ga dokoni mo nakatta.

= I looked all over the place at home, but I couldn’t find it.

(*You can also say 家の中じゅう = ie/uchi no naka jyuu)

Ex. 日本にはコンビニがそこらじゅうにあります。

= Nihon niwa konbini ga sokora juu ni arimasu.

= There are convenience stores everywhere in Japan.

Ex. あの二人のことは学校じゅう)の噂だ。

= Ano futari no koto wa gakkoujuu no uwasa da.

= Everybody is talking about those two at school.

Ex. 彼は面接の間じゅう落ち着かなかった。

= Kare wa mensetu no aida juu ochitsukanakatta.

= He was restless the whole time during the interview.

Ex. 彼は私が話している間じゅうずっと私の目をみつめていた。

= Kare wa watashi ga hanashite iru aida juu zutto watashi no me wo mitsumete ita.

= He was looking into my eyes the whole time while I was talking.

Ex. こんないい先生は世界、どこにもいません。

= Konna ii sensei wa sekaijuu dokoni mo imasen.

= You cannot find such a great teacher anywhere in the world.

(What? Are you talking about me? ) :wink: 

Ex. マギーに顔中(じゅう)舐められた。

= Maggie ni kaojuu namerareta.

= passive tense (I god licked all over my face by Maggie.)

= Maggie licked all over my face.

Ex. 体中(じゅう)が痛い。

= Karadajuu ga itai.

= My whole body hurts.

5) among ~/ out of ~

Ex. モモクロので誰が一番好き?

= Momokuro no naka de dare ga ichiban suki?

= Who do you like the most among “Momokuro”*?

(*Japanese idol group ももいろクローバーZ = Momoiro Kuroobaa zetto)

Ex. 乗客のに医者が一人いた。

= Joukyaku no naka ni isha ga hitori ita.

= There was one doctor in the passengers.

Ex. このに日本に行ったことがある人はいますか?

= Kono naka ni nihon ni itta koto ga aru hito wa imasu ka?

= Is there anybody among us who has been to Japan?

6) In the middle of some activity, while doing ~, to be doing something now

*勉強中 = benkyouchuu = to be studying, in the middle of studying

Ex. 今、勉強なので静かにして下さい。

= Ima, benkyouchuu nanode shizuka ni shite kudasai.

= I am studying now so please be quiet.

*仕事中 = shigotochuu = in the middle of working

Ex. 仕事は携帯に出られません。

= Shigotochuu wa keitai ni deraremasen.

= I can’t answer my cell phone when I am working.

*食事中  = shokujichuu = in the middle of a meal, at the table

Ex. 食事は煙草を吸わないで下さい。

= Shokujichuu wa tabako wo suwanai de kudasai.

= Please do not smoke when we eat.

*旅行中 = ryokouchuu = while traveling

Ex. 旅行に彼と出会った。

= Ryokouchuu ni kare to deatta.

= I met him while traveling.

*在学中 = zaigakuchuu = while  in  school

Ex. 大学に在学に日本語能力試験1級を取った。

= Daigaku ni zaigakuchuu ni nihongo nouryokushiken ikyuu wo totta.

= I passed the JLPT N1 test while I was in college.

*睡眠= suiminchuu = during sleep

Ex. 睡眠にこの音楽を聞くと朝の目覚めがいい。

= Suiminchuu ni kono ongaku wo kiku to asa no mezame ga ii.

= If you listen to this music while you sleep, you can wake up easily in the morning

*話し中 = hanashichuu  = to be talking / in the middle of conversation / the line is busy

(1) When the phone is busy, we say


= (O) Hanashichuu desu

= The line is busy

*お話し中  ( = ohanashichuu) is more polite than 話し中  ( = hanashichuu)

Ex. 今、ゆかりに電話をかけたが話しだった。

= Ima,  Yukari ni denwa wo kaketaga hanashichuu datta.

= I just called Yukari, but the line was busy.

(2) When two people are talking and you have to interrupt them, you say

Ex. お話し、すみません。

= Ohanashichuu, sumimasen.

= I am sorry for interrupting.

*考え中 = kangaechuu = to be thinking, in the middle of thinking

Ex. 彼と別れるかどうかまだ考えです。

= Kare to wakareru ka douka mada kangaechuu desu.

= I am still thinking whether or not I should break up with him.

*営業= eigyouchuu = to be in business / Open

Do you see the sign

 *営業= eigyouchuu,      in the picture above?

You will see that everywhere in Japan.

It means the store is in business →It’s open!

And you will see the sign

 :rrrr: 準備中 = junbichuu = in preparation before they open.

*撮影= satsueichuu = in the middle of shooting (a film)

Ex. その映画の撮影はどの俳優もリラックスしていた。

= Sono eiga no satsueichuu wa dono haiyuu mo rirakkusu shiteita.

= All the actors looked very relaxed during  shooting the film

試験= shikenchuu = during an exam

Ex. 試験、おしゃべりは禁止です。

= Shikenchuu, oshaberi wa kinshi desu.

= Talking during the exam is prohibited.

* = saichuu = right in the middle of doing something

Ex. 今、交渉している最です。

= Ima, koushou shiteiru saichuu desu.

= We are right in the middle of a negotiation.

Note: in middle of negotiation = 交渉( = koushouchuu)

Right in the middle of negotiations

交渉の最中  ( =  koushou no saichuu )


交渉している最中  ( = koushou shiteiru saichuu)

7) Under certain condition

Ex. 工事

= koujichuu

= under construction

Ex. 雨の、来てくれてありがとう。

= Ame no naka, kite kurete arigatou.

= Thank you for coming under the rainy weather.

Ex. お忙しい、お返事有り難うございます。

= Oisogashii naka, ohenji arigatou gozaimasu.

= Thank you for your reply despite being busy.

* We also say ご多忙= gotabouchuu = when you are very busy

*= mochuu = in mourning

Ex. 喪中なので年賀状がだせません。*

= Mochuu nanode nengajou ga dasemasen.

= I am in mourning so I can not send New Year’s cards.

 :rrrr: (See the cultural note in my New Year’s lesson.)

*Colloquial words:

*婚活中 =  婚カツ中   ( = konkatsuchuu) to be actively looking for a future husband or wife.

Ex. 今、婚カツです。

= Ima, konkatsuchuu desu.

= I am actively looking for a future husband/wife.

(Learn more about 婚カツ  ( =  konkatsu) in this lesson. )

*就活中  =  就カツ( =  shuukatsuchuu ) to be looking for a job (job hunting)

maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Ima, nihongo wo benkyouchuu no hito wa, kono saito ni mainichi, kite kudasai ne.

= If you are studying Japanese now, please come visit my site every day.


Will you be my Patron? 

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

Become a Patron!


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  1. Hello Maggie!

    I was just wondering since I know 最中 means “In the middle of-” and 中 means currently doing in some cases so would something like “I should be asleep but..” Look like this? 僕は寝中のはずだがー


    1. Hello Dubz

      You don’t say 寝中 but you can say 睡眠中(すいみんちゅう)


  2. Hi Maggie thank you for another lesson. I have a question:
    You gave this example:

    Ex. 今日中に返事を下さい。

    = Kyoujuuu ni henji wo kudasai .

    = Please give me your answer

    Can I translate this sentence to “Please give me your answer during the day”?

    1. For example
      お話中 right in the middle of conversation
      話している間 while one is talking/speaking

      試験中 during the exam / right in the exam
      試験の間 while one is taking the exam

      Also you usually used 中 ( chuu/juu) in compound words and you use aida with a noun+ の/ verb + 間

  3. Hello, I have a little question. So you know the difference between, Kunyomi and Onyomi. So I saw,{[彼女の顔を見ると心臓がドキドキとする(します)]}”かのじょのかおをみるとしんぞうがドキドキとする(します)。” When I read it I notice it had,しんぞう instead ofこころ. Kokoro means heart in kunyomi and shinsou means hot in oyomi.. So I didn’t know why they used Shinsou instead of Kokoro? (and the sentence means “When I see her face, my heart starts pounding like crazy.”)

    1. Hi Tama

      The English word “heart” means,
      1) the organ in your chest
      2) mind (where one’s feelings/emotions come from)
      and more but let’s focus on these two.

      Japanese distinguish these two
      1) 心臓(しんぞう) shinzou
      2) 心 (こころ) kokoro

      As for the difference of kun-reading and on-reading, you tend to use on-reading for compound words. (But of course there are tons of exceptions.)

  4. Thank you so much! And I forgot to write the proper “wa” >/<…
    Also not to annoy you but I have one more Question about Japanese.

    Would… "私は…とりかいしました。"I understand that.." So than I added"それはちがいます" Would that not make any sense?

  5. こんばんは 先生, My name is Joy and I have a few question about Japanese <3 .So i'am self teaching myself which is difficult. I was wondering if you have any tips on how to learn in a better style.
    Also, Is "私は….とおいます" – "I understand that…" Is that the proper way to say it? also what if i added"それわちがいます"- You're wrong. Which would be all together, "私はそれわちがいますとおいます" Would that make sense?

    1. Hi Joy!
      I know many people who have been studying on their own and their Japanese is amazing!
      Get a proper text book you like to begin with.

      OK, what you probably want to say is
      私は〜とおもいます。= I think ~
      それわちがいます→You have to use は for the particle. It is pronounced “wa = わ” but you write with は
      All together 私は、それはちがうとおもいます。= I think it’s wrong.

    1. Unfortunately there is no simple rule but,

      place related word You tend to use じゅう, そこらじゅう、日本中(にほんじゅう)
      action related word ちゅう 勉強中(べんきょうちゅう)・仕事中(しごとちゅう)

      Time related word chuu/juu both 午前中(gozen chuu)・1日中(ichinichi juu)

  6. こんにちはMaggie 先生
    Could you please explain the difference between 中 and 内?

    1. @Fabian,


      内 has many usages but for example when you express the location, you say
      家の中 (in the house)、教室の中 (in the classroom)
      but you don’t say

      There are cases that you express “inside” using 内 when it is used in compound words


      内 : time expression “meanwhile” “within”

      =within the year

      (年中= throughout the year)

      While I am a student, I would love to have good experiences

      (You can’t say 学生の中に)

      = As I talked, I got confused.

      (You don’t say 話している中に)

      If you say お話し中 it means middle of talking

    2. Hi, Fabian,

      内 has many usages.
      For example when you express the location, “inside” , you say
      家の中 (in the house)、教室の中 (in the classroom)
      but you don’t say

      There are cases that you express “inside” using 内 when it is used in compound words


      内 : time expression “meanwhile” “within”

      =within the year

      (年中= throughout the year)

      While I am a student, I would love to have good experiences

      (You can’t say 学生の中に)

      = As I talked, I got confused.

      (You don’t say 話している中に)

      If you say お話し中 it means middle of talking

  7. Good day! I was looking for an explanation of Facebook word for “followers”: フォロー中. After your article I guess it the meaning of 中 is “under specific conditions”, am I right?

        1. @天人

          I’m following you is フォローしています。or フォロー中です。
          フォローしました is I followed you/ I just followed you. (focusing on the action of clicking the follow rather than the state of following.)

  8. I was looking up a kanji for middle (naka) that’s how I came here. Your site is very helpful.
    From reading one of your first sentences,
    Is it okay to say “ibara no naka ni yuri” is this the correct translation of saying “lily among thorns”?
    If it’s wrong, could you please correct sentence so I could understand it better. Thank you.

    1. @Lily Flower

      Hi Lily, Welcome to our site.
      lily among thorns is
      Ibara no naka no yuri

      It is possible to say Ibara no naka ni yuri,too if it is a title or something.
      But to be precise,
      You usually use “ni” with a verb of existence such as “iru” (=There is/are)
      Ibara no naka ni yuri (ga aru)

  9. Maggie sensei,

    Do you have a lesson which shows different ways on how to express “during” or “when” situations.
    when i went to hokkaido, i visited a hot spring. or
    while i was riding the train, i saw fuji san.
    and a lot more variations/tenses which can be categorized under such situations..

    arigatou maggie sensei!
    i always visit your site, as it is wakariyasui.. boucingheart! :P !DANCING!

    1. @geler

      Hi geler,
      I don’t have a lesson non during/when but a lesson on “when” is on the request list.
      I should work on it soon. :)

      1. Thanks maggie sensei for the quick response.
        But would it be okay with you if you could answer this last question that i have..
        What is the difference with these following expressions and in what situations are they used?
        I am really confused and i cannot proceed.. Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

        – aida ( soujishiteru aida)
        – aida ni ( benyoushiteiru aidani)
        – aidajuu (notteiru aidajuu)
        – saichuu ( uketeiru saichuu ni)
        – tochuu (kaeru tochuu ni)
        – and lastly, toki and toki ni…

        geler :cryingboy: !JYANE!

        1. @geler

          As you can tell by the length of my lessons, it is impossible to explain the whole difference and usages in this comment section but I will just give you one example each, OK?

          間(に)aida (ni) = while / during

          souji shiteiru aida (ni) = while S is cleaning
          Ex. ははが、いえのそうじをしているあいだ、そとにでかけた。
          = Haha ga ie no souji wo shite iru aida, soto ni dekaketa.
          = I went out while my mother was cleaning the house.

          間に aida ni
          You often omit the particle “ni” but when you emphasize the meaning you use “ni”

          Ex. ははが、いえのそうじをしているあいだに、そとにでかけることにしよう。
          = Haha ga, ie no souji wo shite iru aida ni, soto ni dekakeru koto ni shiyou.
          = I guess I am going out while my mother is cleaning the house.

          間中 aidajuu = during the whole time/ when some action has been taken a place the whole time.

          Ex. 彼は、タクシーに乗っているあいだじゅう、ずっとしゃべっていた。
          = Kare wa, takushii ni notte iru aidajuu, zutto shabette ita.
          = He was talking the whole time when he was on the taxi.

          最中 saichuu = in the middle of some action/during some action

          Ex. 試験(しけん)を受けている最中(さいちゅう)にベルが鳴った。
          = Shiken wo ukete iru saichuu ni beru ga natta.
          = The bell rang right during the exam.

          途中= tochuu = on the way

          Ex. 帰る途中にラーメン屋に寄った。
          = Kaeru tochuu ni raamen ya ni yotta.
          = I stopped by a ramen shop on the way home.

          とき = when

          = Komatta toki wa itte kudasai.
          = Let me know when you are in trouble.

          = Kono kappu wa nihon ni kyonen itta toki ni kaimashita.
          = I bought this cup when I went to Japan last year.

          1. Hello Maggie sensei,

            Good day!
            My apologies for the very late response.
            Thank you very much for your effort. This is a great help and now i also understand each expressions better.

            You are the best!
            Thank you!


  10. 「中」というは話題の中心だけど、「心中」は中々おかしな言葉ですね。

    Depending how you read it, it’s either “in ones heart” or “double (lovers) suicide”?! boucingheart! Along with the variation 無理心中 “forced double suicide” this is a common word and even a JLPT N1 term! I was wondering, is this a common phenomenon in Japan? Because I never heard of something like that before, and I can’t even imagine how a forced double suicide works… :-?

    Strange question, but it’s 夜中 here !BOO!!

    1. @Zetsuboumanadeshi

      It is a very sad phenomenon but we sometimes hear 無理心中・一家心中 (a suicide of an entire family) on the news…
      OK, now it is 昼間, daytime so let’s think about something more uplifting! :)

      1. 京阪本線だから、東京での電車や地下鉄ほど込んでいなかった。でも、途中でやっと座れて、よかった。

  11. !happyface! !happyface! thank u for this lesson maggie-sensei:)
    if it were possible could you help me with this, please ?:
    I cant figure out what it means :(

    1. @plumita

      Hello pulmita,
      I need to know the previous sentence but what I can tell you from just that sentence is it is dialect.
      そっとる(ー)? came from そっている?
      And the verb そう has various meanings 沿う、添う
      to go along, to shave, something is along ~ , to comply with

  12. Dear Yukari san,

    Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

    Thank you so much for the first lesson of the year! Learning Japanese with you and Maggie Sensei is wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thank you also to the guest teachers, they are great. I have a soft spot for Leelu sensei! Kawaii! !formingheart3!

    Next time I will try to write in Japanese!

    Take care,


    1. @Andrea

      Hello Andrea
      Thank you for the nice comment.
      It has been pleasure to work with cute guest teachers. Yes, I agree. Leelu sensei is so cute!!!
      Please feel free to write in Japanese anytime. I will help you.

  13. マギー先生へ

    今、卒業試験をを受ける中が、マギー先生の日本語レッスンも勉強しています!   w
    (試験は3日間かかります~ 明日は最後の筆記試験です)


    1. @Alexandra



  14. あけおめ先生!(・ω・)ノ
    Thank you as always for making these great lessons! 2015年もよろしくね (*^_^*)

    Is this right sensei?
    “There is a cat in the room”


    1. @Chie


      Perfect!! Good job!

  15. Nice lesson Sensei! But I don’t get one thing I’ve seen before and always wondered is it like that: the Wo after nihongo on the last sentence. Also, is chuu used after ‘aida’? I’ve read ‘aidachuu’ as ‘during’,’while’ but I don’t see any diference from aida itself…

    1. Hello Rhi!
      Thank you for visiting this site.
      OK, let me see your questions…
      1) the Wo after nihongo on the last sentence.
      You are talking about “を” in the last sentence 日本語を勉強中の人, right?

      日本語を勉強する= Nihongo wo benkyou suru
      を is an object marker.
      You use を before the direct object, 日本語 (Japanese)
      The same thing with 日本語を勉強中= studying Japanese (Japanese is a direct object for the verb 勉強 so you need を)

      2)Ah,good question. Yes, it is possible. I added some example sentences. Check 4) 〜の間じゅう. It means “the whole time while doing something”

      1. Whoaa nice new examples with aida!! Makes much more sense. It is a little confusing sometimes, seeing that chuu/juu is both used for the middle of an activity and the whole.
        Any rule to difference those meanings? I mean, shigotochuu is middle of work, but gozenchuu is all morning, so it confuses me a bit.

        About the “wo”, the reason I don’t get it is because I don’t see a verb, I mean, isn’t benkyouchuu a noun? Is chuu added to another noun or is it like some kind of ending to some verbs? b2+chuu and added right to the noun in verbs with suru? !ase!  Confusiiiiing :cryingboy:

        1. @Rhi

          1) One of the rule is if you see the time related word, 午前、一日、一年 etc. or some words that refer to location 世界、日本、国 it means “the whole”
          2) Don’t cry…. Even 勉強 in 勉強中 doesn’t look like a verb, it has the same function of verb.
          〜を作成する(to make something) →〜を作成中~
          〜を準備する(to prepare something) →~を準備中~

          1. Ooooh nice nice! Yeah really it sounds like using “wo” there, makes a lot of sense, but until now I thought it was extrictly for the verbs !niconico! 

            Also when it comes to time related I always read juu instead of chuu, and when it comes to an activity I read almost always chuu so I guess I’ll be able to figure out !greenapple! 

            Now I understand, thanks boucingheart!

  16. マギー先生、こんにちは!初レッスンでおめでとう!
    きっとここに毎日、来る。 !JYANE!

  17. Hi and thank you for your ever great teaching! It’s been a long while since I’ve visited, but one of my new year’s resolution is to come here as often as possible!

    Even your beginners lessons are entertaining! Keep on the great work!


    1. @めっちゃマット
      I am very happy to hear from you again. I hope you come back here more often as well.

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