Ich skype mit meinen Freunden und zugleich surfe ich im Internet.

I am skyping with my friends and surfing the internet at the same time.

Can I also use gleichzeitig in this context? Or are they interchangeable? What is the difference between zugleich and gleichzeitig?


Zugleich and gleichzeitig mean the same thing, i.e. zur gleichen Zeit. There is no significant difference in my opinion.

Lately "zeitgleich" has been used a lot as well. Prescriptivists will tell you that this only means "with the same time", however (in a race, e.g., finishing ex aequo).

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  • Which one is often used? My friends always use gleichzeitig more than zugleich. – DerPolyglott33 Apr 30 '14 at 11:18
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    Well observed, @DerPolyglott33. "Gleichzeitig" is more common in spoken German. – elena Apr 30 '14 at 11:39
  • Good that you mentioned "zeitgleich", as this really is often confused with "gleichzeitig". – Em1 Apr 30 '14 at 11:47
  • Zugleich is something that you used when you instruct a group of people to do something at the same the. Like sailors putting a sail on a boat. Its in old movies about sailing or pirates. A translation of zugleich would be "all together N0W" – Matthias May 1 '14 at 19:42
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    It's not about doing things together. Just as you said, those appearances are in old movies that use marineers jargon. – bot47 May 2 '14 at 8:53

The difference is strictly between levels of formality/register. Present-day spoken German is more likely to use "gleichzeitig" rather than "zugleich" (even though it's longer!).

"zugleich" might be somewhat more likely to convey a figurative rather than a temporal meaning, as in "while" (although) vs. "while" (simultaneously), but such nuances are usually subjective and subtle.

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  • Personally I'd use either of them equally likely. Both are certainly correct. – Ingmar Apr 30 '14 at 11:23

Yes, they mean the same thing, though "zugleich" sounds more right for points in time while "gleichzeitig" can also be used for extended events.

source: native speaker

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There is a slight difference between the two words. Most people are not aware of it. If you use "gleichzeitig", then you emphasize on the matter of time. "Zugleich" is more neutral.

e.g. (1) Jürgen arbeitet und studiert gleichzeitig. - With "gleichzeitig" I focus on it, as if it is a bad idea to do both things simultaneously. (2) Jürgen arbeitet und zugleich studiert er. - With "zugleich", the focus of the sentence is put on the two actions.

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    Ich kann die behauptete, implizite Bewertung nicht bestätigen. – user unknown Apr 28 at 20:39
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    The focus changes with the word order, not with choice of the adverb. – Björn Friedrich Apr 29 at 4:30
  • Yes Björn Friedrich, the focus changes with the word order and the choice of the adverb happens because of the focus. Gleichzeitig has the same function like lust-ig, witz-ig, traur-ig etc. The matter of "Lust", "Witz", "Trauer" etc becomes more important than the rest of the sentence. – Konstantinos Blounas Apr 29 at 22:43

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