I'm writing a personal statement and I want to explain that while on a language learning journey and, later on, on a language teaching career, I realized what languages actually represent in the world. While doing it, I had a feeling that if I wrote something like

between learning and teaching, I've realized that...

it would be fine, but I'd like someone to back this up first.

  • 14
    Between commenting and doing nothing else, I feel I've answered this question.
    – Robusto
    Sep 19, 2020 at 13:45
  • 6
    It is not idiomatic to write "sth".
    – tchrist
    Sep 19, 2020 at 20:56
  • 4
    @tchrist I have no clue what "sth" means, and I've lived in the U.S. all my life. May not be idiomatic, but it is not ubiquitous.
    – mjjf
    Sep 20, 2020 at 1:19
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    @Felipe A question posted to stackexchange is not a text. If you mean to represent saying the word "something", type that word, rather than using a textspeak abbreviation; it will be better understood (and be easier for people searching later). Also if the two somethings are distinct, it would be usual to refer to the the second by "another thing" or "something else".
    – Glen_b
    Sep 20, 2020 at 2:21
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    @Glen_b: using "sth" as a placeholder for a noun in a description of usage is an academic convention, not "textspeak". It's standard in reference works. Sep 21, 2020 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


This is a correct locution for expressing what you have in mind, as shows the folowing OALD definition.

​between doing something - used to show that several activities are involved
Between working full-time and taking care of the kids, he didn't have much time for hobbies.

There is, however, another one, which is "what with" (it's the object of user 121863's answwer). I couldn't assert which of the two locutions is more common or preferred but it seems to me that "what with" would be somewhat more expressive, maybe because of its carrying no ambiguity.

  • 4
    I suspect that what with may be more of a BrE usage than AmE, but I can't easily show that. I also suspect that and all is relatively common for the second "distracting activity", but that one only really works in I've been busy, what with work and all (I'm not so keen on ...between work and all there). Sep 19, 2020 at 15:55
  • 12
    As an American, "what with" is fine but means a complaint is coming. "Between" is more neutral. Sep 19, 2020 at 21:58
  • @FumbleFingers Not at all. We use what with all the time in AmE. ///However, locution in French and English are usually false friends. In English, we say phrase.
    – Lambie
    Jul 3, 2021 at 19:03
  • "This is a correct locution for expressing what you have in mind, as shows the folowing [typo] OALD definition". Correction: This is correct phrasing for expressing what you have in mind, as the following OALD definition shows. Grammar.
    – Lambie
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:54
  • @Lambie On this page, google.com/…, check those: "this locution is not entirely clear, the locution is not allowed, the locution is not valid, odd locution is not necessarily senseless". In particular, "a valid locution" is seen as direct consequence. Why then decide that "correct locution" is not a possibility? I agree that "correct phrasing" would be more usual, but that is no reason to make it the exclusive term to refer to a string of words. (1/2)
    – LPH
    Aug 17, 2021 at 10:05

You can use the idiomatic expression what with:

What with learning and teaching, I have realized ..

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • 6
    I like much better OALD' s definition: "used to list the various reasons for something - What with the cold weather and my bad leg, I haven't been out for weeks.".
    – LPH
    Sep 19, 2020 at 14:05

I am going to disagree with the highly upvoted answer by @LPH

Between refers to a place that is neither one thing nor another.

Between working full-time and taking care of the kids, he didn't have much time for hobbies.

This means that there was no time or space between working and caretaking to have a hobby.

between learning and teaching, I've realized that...

This could mean that you took a break between learning and teaching and it was during that gap that you realized something.

At best it is ambiguous.


Through learning and teaching, I've realized that...

Having experienced both learning and teaching, I've realized that...

Having been both learner and teacher, I've realized that...

  • 2
    In the expression discussed 'between' indicates a connection or relationship involving two or more things. This is the fourth definition provided by Google/OL, one of the more idiomatic ones. OP specifically asked whether the phrase was idiomatic. It is. Sep 20, 2020 at 13:13
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    Phrases do not always mean the same thing as the words that make them up. The word-wise literal interpretation proposed here imposes constraints on the OP's "between gerund and gerund" phrase that don't align with the OALD definition referenced above, or my (Am. English) experience of the phrase in the wild. OP's proposed usage feels absolutely natural to my Am. English ear. It may be slightly less formal than the good suggestions made in this answer, but not inappropriate for a personal statement. Sep 20, 2020 at 18:29
  • @Chris Keefe - Maybe this is an AmE, BrE difference. Sep 20, 2020 at 23:26

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