We often do multiple things at the same or things happen while we are doing something. These things we want to express in our own native language, but also in Korean. Like our own languages, there are a few ways to express this in Korean and one of the ways is the form 동안.
In another Korean language bank article we introduced the form -(으)면서 to indicate two actions happen simultaneously. 동안 is an alternative to it and you can use 동안 when you cannot use -(으)면사. Like the latter, 동안 is a simple way to indicate an event or state happens while another event or action takes place. So, you can use it to mix things up so you aren’t always using the same type of sentence. However, keep in mind there is still a difference between the two, a difference we’ll cover later in the article.
가: 아직 배가 고파요? 점심에 먹지 않았어요?
나: 점심을 먹는 동안 숙제를 했어요. 그래서 조금만 먹었어요.
A: Are you still hungry? Didn’t you have lunch?
B: I did my homework while I was eating lunch. So I ate just a little bit.
How To Use
The Korean time expression 동안 is not that difficult to use as it very similar to another basic Korean time expression, 중. Like it, you can use it with just nouns. And, when you do you needn’t bother with anything, you simply write it after the noun and you are done. There is little else to it.
However, you can also use it with verbs, but then you need to turn the verb into its noun phrase form with the form -(으)ㄴ/는. In its verb present tense form, -는. So the form for verbs becomes -는 동안. This form is basically an alternative for the Korean time expression -(으)면서. However, there is a major difference between the two. Unlike the latter, you can use -는 동안 even when the subject in the first clause is a different one than the one you use in the second clause. Keep this in mind, because with -는 동안 you can say what you are doing while someone or something else does something. We discuss the differences between 동안, -(으)묜서 and -(으)ㄹ 때 in a seperate article to clear up the confusion between these time expressions in Korean.