concurrent and simultaneous

Discussion in 'English Only' started by loladamore, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    Good morning forer@s,

    Could anyone explain to me the difference, if there is one, between concurrent and simultaneous? I have just read an article that describes certain processes as both concurrent and simultaneous, which seems rather tautological to me, but I am quite happy to have my error pointed out to me. I understand that both mean "at the same time" but there is perhaps something I'm missing.

  2. Franzi Senior Member

    Astoria, NY
    (San Francisco) English
    It's probably something like "happening over the same period of time" vs. "happening in the same instant". What article are you reading? (Who's it by, where was it published, what is the topic, how formal is it, etc.?)
  3. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    It's actually in Spanish, a very formal, academic article on migration, and I'm translating into English for publication. I have exactly the same problem with my understanding of the Spanish words (concurrente and simultáneo)and have asked a concurrent/simultaneous question in the Spanish forum, but I am rather more concerned about the correct expression in English.

    If, as you suggest, there is an ever-so-slight but nonetheless perceptible difference betweent the two, then there is no tautology and my job is done. :p

  4. padredeocho Banned

    United States
    Your English is pretty amazing.

    I think they are pretty much the same, like "may" and "might". However, here is how you will often hear them (when only one of them seems to sound right).

    Despite begging the Court to run the sentences concurrently, the Judge ordered that the Defendant serve all three of them consecutively (one after the other).

    The play-by-play announcer's voice was run simulteneously on TV and the radio during the game. (This is called a "simulcast")

    She is taking college and high school classes concurrently.
  5. Franzi Senior Member

    Astoria, NY
    (San Francisco) English
    Actually, looking in the dictionary, I don't think it's that slight. Check out or It looks like 'concurrent' has a definition that overlaps with 'simultaneous', but it has several other possible definitions as well. On top of that, it looks like the two have a number of jargon uses where they're distinct. I think it's fine to just go ahead and use both.
  6. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    Thank you both, especially for the compliment regarding my mastery of my native language!
    Yes, I did check several dictionaries before posting, but all the English ones came up with variations on "existing or happening at the same time" for both words, hence my question. As for the Spanish meanings, concurrente seems to have a spatial dimension as well temporal, something I have been unable to find in an English definition. Ah well. No tautology in the original, then. I would just like to be sure that there isn't any in my version.
    Thanks again for your input.

  7. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    [The question as originally stated seems fine to me. I do not agree that the suggested changes would be an improvement.]
  8. Lingalot New Member

    Hi there,
    For someone frequently thinking outside the square, whatever that means these days, Concurrent conjures up an image of two currents flowing side by side at the same time, as indeed the word pictures, whereas simultaneous seems to suggests total integration of time and place.
  9. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    concurrent = overlapping

    simultaneous = happening at the same time

    Clearly events can overlap without starting or finishing at the same time.

    If they overlap and start and finish at the same time then they are both concurrent and simultaneous.
  10. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    This is also what my dictionary overview suggests. Concurrent seems to have other meanings in addition to being a complete synonym for simultaneous. In other words, when they overlap, they mean the same thing. When concurrent means something else, it doesn't mean simultaneous. Make sense?
  11. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK

Share This Page