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I am very confused by this sentence but looking at some google searches it seems like this is relatively common phrase, but I am having a very difficult time understanding its meaning and usage.

I understand 「眠ってる場合」, but its usage in combination with こんなところで and ではない is a little too abstract for me to understand why this is a natural sentence. I think I have trouble with more abstract notions of "place" in Japanese and that might be why I am so confused by this sentence.

I was told that this might be something that is said if you are sleepy but have an exam the next day, and the combination of words used in this phrase leads me to believe it is true, but I do not get that meaning if I try to break down the sentence using what I know about Japanese grammar.

Is it common to use this structure? こんなところで~場合ではない in other contexts? If yes, could you provide some alternative common phrases?

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「(こんなところで) + Verb Phrase in ている/てる Form + [場合]{ばあい}ではない 」

is a very common set phrase meaning:

"Now is not the time to ~~ (in a place/at a time like this)!"

"I am not supposed to be (verb + ing) here/now!"

「[場合]{ばあい}」, in this phrase, means "circumstances" rather than "case".

「ところ」 here can refer to a spatial and/or temporal point. One should not just take the usual dictionary definition of "place" to understand it.

This expression can be used both when:

1) one has actually started doing the thing one should not be doing ("Damn! How the heck could I actually be doing this when I should be doing ~~ instead!")

2) one finds oneself thinking about doing it. (Oops! I shouldn't be thinking 'bout that now, should I? I've gotta concentrate on writing my answer to this question!)

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The meaning of こんなところで〜場合ではない is It's not a situation that I/you should spend time for something.

But for me ではない sounds bit too formal or contrived, in normal conversation it's better to use じゃない instead.

For example when you meet your friends on the way to an appointment, you may chat a bit and want to talk more, but there is no time for it. In the situation like this you could say: こんなところでおしゃべりしてる場合じゃなかった.

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    I don't think ではない is necessarily too formal. That's all depending on who you're addressing. – Jimmy Jan 8 '16 at 18:52
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This breaks down into 'this is not the time/place to be (doing) X!'

Essentially, someone is doing something at a time or place they shouldn't be and someone is telling them off.

@ironsand - ではない isn't necessarily formal, it just conveys a bit more of a harsh tone here. Like, you want to really emphasise the point that this is not the place to be doing X. Going out of your way to use the full grammatical construct is kind of akin to when your parents used your full name (including middle name) to tell you off when you did something naughty. It had more impact.

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