One-Point English Lesson: When Vs While in the Past

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I saw this spider when I was in Tokyo

We use both while and when to refer to the past time. Let’s check out the basic rules for using these words.

We use when in a past time clause with the simple past tense, like this:

  • When the hurricane hit, I was on vacation.
  • Jack was in the middle of a meeting when his cell phone rang.
  • When I saw Jane she was working on her project.
  • I was about to leave the house when it started raining.

We use while in a past time clause with the past progressive tense, like this:

  • While I was cooking dinner, the power went out.
  • Jim said he lost his keys while he was jogging.
  • While we were walking home, it started raining.
  • I met up with Tommy while I was shopping in the mall.

I wrote this lesson at 10pm NYC time. What were you doing when I wrote it? Leave a comment and let me know.

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