Grammar Info
N2 Lesson 4: 10/18

right after, as soon as, just when, barely

Verb[る]+ + Verb ない(*) + のうちに

(*) The same Verb has to be repeated
Register Formal
使用域 硬い
か~ないかのうちに is a slightly formal grammar structure used in Japanese to indicate a precise point in time where the action of (A) can not be determined as either being started, or finished. Usually, it highlights the exact moment either before or after (A) commences. This grammar structure is comprised of か, ない, か, の, the noun 内(うち) 'within', and に. Literally, it just means 'while not knowing whether (A) or not (A), (B)'.
The verb that appears before か and ないか must be repeated in this grammar pattern, and may be used in its dictionary form. Standard translations include 'right after (A)', 'as soon as (A)', and 'barely when (A)'.
  • 父(ちち)はビールを飲(の)み終(お)わる飲(の)み終(お)わらないかのうちに、新(あたら)しい缶(かん)を開(あ)けた。
    My father opened a new can of beer as soon as he finished his beer.
  • 彼(かれ)は椅子(いす)に座(すわ)る座(すわ)らないかのうちに、テレビをつけた。
    He turned his TV on just as he sat down.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)は車(くるま)が止(と)まる止(と)まらないかのうちに、ドアを開(あ)けて駅(えき)へと走(はし)っていった。
    Just as the car stopped, she opened the door and ran to the station.
Additionally, か~ないかのうちに may be used to highlight relatively short periods of time within which something happens. This is usually in regard to some sort of positive or negative occurrence that would not usually be expected to be able to happen so quickly.
  • 就活(しゅうかつ)を初(はじ)めて1週間(しゅうかん)経(た)つ経(た)たないかのうちに、仕事(しごと)が見(み)つかった。
    In just a week of looking for a new job, I found a job.
  • 戦争(せんそう)が終(お)わる終(お)わらないかのうちに、原爆(げんばつ)が落(お)とされた。
    An atomic bomb was dropped, just when the war was about to end.
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Right after I washed my car, it started raining. I was so frustrated.
As soon as I open the door our dog always jumps out and licks my face.
These days, people take out their smartphones and surf the web as soon as they wake up.
新完全マスター文法 N2
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