Archive for the ‘Simultaneous actions’ Category

In Chinese, the particle  一边 is used to show that two actions are occurring simultaneously.  For instance 咱们一边喝果汁, 一边聊天 (As we drink fruit juice, we chat). 

The consequent structure is [subject] +[optative verb] + [一边] + [predicate],  [一边] +[predicate].  The subject can be omitted if well-known to the speakers.

Further examples include:

我一边用QQ,一边吃些点心 (As I’m using QQ, I eat some snacks) **  For the uninitiated, QQ is a Chinese social networking website.  

她一边坐地铁,一边看报 (As she rides the subway, she reads the newspaper)

他不可以一边写英文的文章,一边练习汉子 (He can’t write an essay in English while practicing Chinese characters)

However, there exists another, more colloquial way to express simultaneous actions. 

北方人到茶馆去的时候,他们喝茶听戏。(When Northern Chinese go to a tea house, they drink tea while listening to a performance)

Here, 他们喝茶听戏 the verb-oject combinations follow each other.  However, this does create some ambiguity, as it could be interpreted that, Northern Chinese drink tea before listening to a performance.

As such, the use of 一边, although a tad formal, specifically expresses the nature of simultaneous actions.

Michael and Jing