Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 1: 5/22

while, during

Verb[ている]+ うちに
[い]Adjective + うちに
[な]Adjective + + うちに
Noun + + うちに
Register Standard
使用域 一般
When うち, (sometimes seen using the kanji 内(うち), or 裡(うち)) is paired with the 格助詞(かくじょし) (case marking particle) , it expresses a period/space ‘within’ which something else will/should happen/exist. It quite often (but not always) carries the nuance of (A) being the ‘best’, or the ‘optimal’ time/space within which (B) could occur/exist. In English, うちに can simply be translated as ‘while’, or ‘during’.
うちに may be paired with the ている form of verbs, the plain form of い-Adjectives, nouns followed by の, or な-Adjectives that are followed by な.
  • 彼(かれ)毎日(まいにち)会(あ)っているうちにだんだんと彼(かれ)事(こと)が好(す)きなってきた
    As I've been meeting with him everyday, I have gradually come to like him. (As I spend more time with him every day, I have grown to like him)
  • 熱(あつ)いうちに食(た)べて!
    Eat it while it's hot!
  • お爺(じい)ちゃんがまだ元気(げんき)なうちに家族(かぞく)皆(みんな)旅行(りょこう)行(い)こう!
    Let's all go on a family trip while grandpa is still healthy!
  • 今(いま)のうちに明日(あした)準備(じゅんび)しておこう。
    Let's get ready for tomorrow while we have time. (Before it is too late)
Unlike 間(あいだ)に, うちに expresses something that can happen/exist anywhere ‘within’ the span of (A), and is therefore non-specific as to where (B) is located.
  • 運転(うんてん)している間(あいだ)に眠(ねむ)くなったので、コンビニ休憩(きゅうけい)した。
    I got sleepy while driving, so I took a break at a convenience store. (While in the process of driving)
  • 運転(うんてん)しているうちに眠(ねむ)くなったので、コンビニ休憩(きゅうけい)した。
    I got sleepy while driving, so I took a break at a convenience store. (At one point while driving)
Fun Fact
The kanji 裡(うち) refers literally to the inner walls/lining of something, and anything that is enclosed within that space. This can be thought of as where the ‘non-specificity’ of うち comes from, in regard to where within that space something is.
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I was able to finish my homework while taking a class.
The baby fell asleep while eating.
I’ll be in touch before long.
Page 95
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 512
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 208