How to use During and While – Confusing English (Video)

During and While – Confusing English

During is used with nouns.
I fell asleep during math class.
While is used with a subject and a verb.
I fell asleep while my math teacher was talking.

Read below for a more detailed explanation. AND you will find a video version of this post at the bottom of this page and podcast audio on SoundCloud. Use these to refresh the grammar and improve your English listening skills.

We use the words during and while to explain when something happens. Choosing which word to use in a natural English sentence can be confusing.

I fell asleep during math class.

I fell asleep while my math teacher was talking.

These examples have the same meaning, but the words during and while are used with different grammar.

I fell asleep while my math teacher was talking.
During or While Confusing English
During or While Confusing English

During is a preposition that means – at some point in a period of time

I fell asleep during math class.

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/during?q=During

While is a conjunction that means – during the time that something is happening
(A conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases or sentences)

I fell asleep while my math teacher was talking.

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/while_1?q=While

During is used with nouns.
While is used with a subject and a verb.
During or While Confusing English

During is used with nouns.

I fell asleep during math class.

Roger ate too much during his vacation.

While is used with a subject and a verb.

I fell asleep while my math teacher was talking.
(The subject of this sentence is my math teacher. The verb in this sentence is the verb phrase was talking.)

Roger ate too much while he was on vacation.

Here are some more natural examples.

We brought some sandwiches to eat during the long train ride. (The long train ride is a noun phrase.)

We brought some sandwiches to eat while we were on the train. (We is the subject and were is the verb.)

Do you want to learn real English that native speakers use?

With time expressions you can use in to give the same message.

I will have time to meet you during the afternoon.

I will have time to meet you in the afternoon.

Using in for this example is the most natural for me.

Donny likes to go grocery shopping in the morning before the store gets busy. (Natural.)

Donny likes to go grocery shopping during the morning before the store gets busy. (Also okay.)

To talk about an amount of time we can’t use during, we need to use for.

She waited during 3 hours. ✘

She waited for 3 hours. ✔

She waited for 3 hours. 
During or While Confusing English

A blog is great because people can study anywhere, anytime with their smartphones. My students like to study this blog during their train ride to work. They study while they commute. Write a comment below using this grammar!

Though, Although, Even Though – Don’t confuse these words anymore!
Learn to use them HERE!

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During Vs. While Podcast

Write a sentence in the comment section using during or while. It’s helpful to use a real example from your own life.

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