When we want to expresss that something is in progress, we can use the progressive form:



But another way of expressing a progressing action is by adding 中 to the noun:



I want to know the difference between these two. Can I say 勉強中 or 仕事している to achieve the same meaning? If I can't, is there a pattern to this? I mean like what kind of nouns can I add 中 to?

I know that 勉強している is a verb while 仕事中 is an adverb but I don't care about the part of speech. I'm only considering it as a standalone word right now.


2 Answers 2


To me, there is no big difference between 勉強しています and 勉強中です. It is just personal preference. [中]{ちゅう} can create idioms when combined with other nouns such as [工事中]{こうじちゅう} which means under construction / repair and you should note that it is a noun, not an adverb.

[中]{ちゅう} means middle. If you are in the middle of something, you are doing something. Therefore, 私は勉強中です is translated to

I am in the middle of studying. / I am studying.

If you use [中]{ちゅう}, you can make the sentence more concise, but you have to note that it can't be used with all Japanese nouns.


You can say 勉強中 or 仕事している. When the Japanese say a short phrase like 勉強している, it's frequently shortened as 勉強してる in a colloquial manner. Therefore, 仕事してる is more natural than 仕事している when you are asked by someone on a phone, etc.

○○中 is a very productive way to coin new words. 食事中, 旅行中, and 入院中 are a few examples of very common expressions of this type.

  • 3
    I don't think you really answered the question of what the difference between the two is.
    – Kurausukun
    Nov 3, 2016 at 4:52

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