Can you please explain me the difference between using -는 도중에 and -는 동안(에)? I know, that they both mean "while", but can't figure out how to use them properly.

1 Answer 1


Korean often uses both them such like, 그는 학교를 가는 도중에 친구를 만났다. (He met a friend on his way to school.) 그는 학교를 가는 동안에 친구를 만났다. (He met a friend while going to school.)

However, technically, there are some subtle differences.

-는 도중에 means 'on one's way to'. 도중 means one's way. '는 동안에 relates to 'time intervals'. from one moment to another moment.

Korean would not severely distinguish -는 도중에 and -는 동안(에). But, to speak naturally, let me show u some examples.

내가 점심을 먹는 동안(에) 쉬고 있어.(Take a break while I have a lunch.) => Good 내가 점심을 먹는 도중에 쉬고 있어.=> Something strange, but still possible to understand.

학교를 가는 동안에 빵을 샀다. => Good. 학교를 가는 도중에 빵을 샀다. => Good.

4년 동안 => Good! 4년 도중 => Nope!

Best regards.

  • Thank you so much for such a detailed explanation! It's like a chapter of a good grammar book.
    – Gwen
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 17:22

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