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What is the difference between ながら, がてら and つつ?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

ながら means doing multiple things simultaneously. がてら means to do one thing at somewhere middle along way to doing another. つつ means doing multiple things alongside but not necessarily simultaneously, little by little in turn.

'eat while driving'

'eating along the way driving (after having driven half way)'

'take a bite and drive a little, take a bite and drive a little, ...'

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I don't understand the explanation of がてら. The meaning of this : "means to do one thing on the way for doing another"- is unclear, as is this: "eating (half way) after driving." "Eating half way after driving," does not make sense but it implies this: "eating half a meal after you finish driving." – yadokari Jun 20 '12 at 19:20
Yep, same here, I don't quite get your explanation of がてら. Could you please add a few more examples of it in use? – Philip Seyfi Jun 20 '12 at 19:49
がてらに = …をかねて。…のついでに。 So it sounds to me like XがてらにY is like, X is the main thing, and Y is incidental, happening along the way (maybe just because it can, or it's convenient...or whatever). – SomethingJapanese Jun 20 '12 at 20:02
@yadokari, PhilipSeyfi I edited to make my intention clear. SomethingJapanese I agree with that. That is what I meant. – user458 Jun 21 '12 at 1:20
Maybe worth pointing out that when using ながら, the second half of the sentence is the main/important task. So your first sentence probably gives the impression that you prioritize eating over driving, and would translate to 'driving while eating'. – Jeemusu Oct 4 '12 at 2:33

I think the meaning is to drive half the journey (for example) stop for food and then drive again to.the destination.

"We stopped for food on the way here"

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