Simultaneous tasks with "yibian"
Multitasking is everywhere in the modern world (what else are you doing while you read this?), but you if can focus for just a minute, you can learn a way to express simultaneous tasks in Chinese! This can be done with 一边 (yībiān).
To express that one thing is done while doing something else, the word 一边 (yībiān) is used.
Subj. + 一边 + Verb (，) + 一边 + Verb
Note that you sometimes see 一边 (yībiān) shortened to 边 (biān) as well, which has a less formal feel.
- 不要 一边 吃 东西，一边 说话 。Don't speak while eating.
- 我 常常 一边 洗澡， 一边 唱歌 。I often sing songs while I take a shower.
- 孩子 喜欢 一边 吃饭， 一边 玩 。Children like to play while eating.
- 你 喜欢 一边 听 音乐， 一边 做 作业 吗 ？Do you like to listen to music while doing homework?
- 我们 一边 走 一边 聊 吧 。Let's walk while we talk.
- 请 你 一边 读 一边 写 。Please write as you read.
- 不要 一边 开车， 一边 打电话 。Don't talk on the phone while you drive.
- 老板 喜欢 一边 抽烟，一边 工作 。The boss likes to smoke while working.
- 很多 人 都 一边 上班， 一边 玩 手机 。Many people play with their cell phones while working.
- 她 常常 一边 做饭，一边 带 孩子 。She often looks after the baby while cooking food.
You'll notice that the order of the two actions is sometimes different in the original Chinese and the English translations above. This is because the "main" action usually comes second in English (after the "while"), but first in Chinese. For example, "take a shower while singing" sounds strange in English, but "sing while taking a shower" doesn't.
Note that you must be actively doing both actions. That is, they have to be intentional. If you want to say something happened while another thing was happening, it would be better to use 的时候 (de shíhou).
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 3 (pp. 111) 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 (3rd ed) (pp. 207) 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 3 (新实用汉语课本3) (pp. 17) 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） →buy
- Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (pp. 269) 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） →buy