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Chinese Grammar: Simultaneous actions with 一边一边

Have you noticed how people are getting used to doing many things at the same time and multitask more and more? Listening to music while going to work, eating while watching TV, chatting while going shopping with your best friends... How do you describe to others that you’re doing several things at the same time? The structure 一边 ... 一边 is perfect for this situation.

一边: While doing


Subject + 一边 + verb, 一边 + verb

The structure 一边 ... 一边 is used to describe a situation where you are doing two or more things at the same time. This pattern allows you to mention two actions, happening simultaneously, in the same sentence. Each 一边, which means “on the one hand” or “one side”, is usually followed by a verb. This structure is close to saying “while doing” in English.


一边 电视一边吃饭
I watch TV while eating dinner.

Let’s chat while we eat.

As you can see in the last example, the can be omitted in the pattern. It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence and instead gives the phrase a less formal feel, so it’s perfect for suggestions, for instance.

一边 一边 over time

You can also use一边 ... 一边 to talk about two simultaneous tasks that happened over a period of time.


去年 一直一边上学一边打工
Last year, I studied and worked all the time.

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