Conjunctions of Time - for / during / while
how long something happened. It is used to refer
to a period of time. For example:
- We're ging to live in Malta for 6 months.
- She's in New York for a few days.
- We went to Saudi Arabia for a week.
See also the related
unit on the Present Perfect and since.
While / During
and while refer to a period of time in
which something happens. For example:
- My phone rang while I was in a meeting.
- My phone rang during the meeting.
used with a noun or noun phrase. For example:
- We were busy during the weekend.
- During the night the cat woke me up.
- The Athenians suffered heavy losses during
the battle of Salamis.
While is used
with a subject and verb. For example:
- We went shopping while you were sleeping.
- You shouldn't eat while you are in
- While I was working I got an email
When / While
When and while
can both be used when two things happen at the
When two continuous
actions happen at the same time, we usually
use while. For example:
- "While you were studying I went
out shopping." Studying and shopping
When two short events
happen at the same time, we use when.
- "When I saw you I didn't recognize
you." I saw you and I didn't
recognize you are individual events.
- I heard you when you opened the door.
In this situation while is incorrect.
While I saw you I didn't
When one continuous
background situation occurs and one shorter
event occurs at the same time, when and
while can both be used. For example:
- "When I was in Rome I met my
wife." - "While I was in Rome
I met my wife."
- "I cut myself while I was cooking
dinner." - "I cut myself when
I was cooking dinner."
The position of while
and when clauses is interchangeable with
usually little difference in meaning.
- Don't forget to lock the door when
you go out. - When you go out don't forget
to lock the door.
- We're still growing while other businesses
are losing clients. - While other businesses
are losing clients, we're still growing.