I know that verb + ~ている+ 瞬間【しゅんかん】 has a similar usage to ~ている+とき, for example 目を閉じている瞬間 and 目を閉じているとき.

I want to know what is the difference between these two in general, will it change the meaning of the sentence if I use しゅんかん over とき?

  • I edited the question and turned the part about +うえ into a side-question for now. Is this supposed to be a side question? Or are you uncertain when to use うえ vs. とき or しゅんかん? If it is not a side question, feel free to edit the question or leave a comment. If it is a side question, I think it would be better to ask this as a separate question.
    – blutorange
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 11:41
  • Yup it was supposed to be a side question but I was hoping for an answer that would tell me the difference between these three patterns.
    – Johji
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 13:46
  • 1
    Sorry I need to ask again, but verb+うえ is a bit different in meaning compated to しゅんかん and とき. If you don't know the difference between うえ and the other two, that's fine and then it's not a side question ;)
    – blutorange
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 15:09
  • Yeah , I don't really know the pattern っている+うえ, I just had the feeling that it is somehow related to ってる+とき.
    – Johji
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 15:19
  • 2
    As you've accepted the answer, I've gone ahead and removed the side question. Please feel free to ask it as a new question. You can view the edit history here if you want to copy&paste the side question.
    – blutorange
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 5:30

1 Answer 1


Japanese 瞬間 always refers to a very short period of time, typically less than a second. (It can refer to a longer period of time, for example if you're talking about the history of the earth, though.)

  • 目を閉じる瞬間 the very moment someone closes their eyes
  • 目を閉じている時 when someone's eyes are closed

So you cannot use 瞬間 in the following sentence:


目を閉じている瞬間 is an expression we would seldom encounter. In general, the progressive form ~ている implies the situation persists over a longer period of time, and thus it doesn't go very well with 瞬間.

Only when you know the eyes will be closed for a very short period of time, you can say something like this:


(I'm sorry, but your "side question" is totally irrelevant to the main question. Could you ask it separately?)

  • Sorry for the confusion , I am confused myself in the first place. I just had this feeling that [verb+うえ+で] is somehow related to time.
    – Johji
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 4:00

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