Learn The Difference Between When & While – TOEIC Grammar Study

MichaelADConfusing Words, Grammar Leave a Comment


When I was a kid, I was very curious about electronic equipment. My dad had an old reel to reel tape recorder, and the back of it was open, so you could see the components. While he was playing music, I used to love to look at the back of the recorder and watch the moving parts. I got excited when he taught me how to use the machine, too. These days the old recorder just sits in the attic. While I was writing this lesson, I wondered if it still works. When I get home from work tonight, I think I’ll find out!

For today’s English lesson, let’s have a look at the difference between when and while. This comes up on the TOEIC exam sometimes, and even if you are not studying for TOEIC, I think it’s good to know. Both when and while are used to show two things happen at the same time:

  • When Jack gets to the office, we will begin the meeting.
  • While I was cooking dinner, the smoke alarm went off.

However, there are a few differences between these words.

We usually use while when we talk about two actions that are continuous, or actions that continue for a long period of time:

  • While I was working on the report, Jack was fixing the printer.
  • Jim is always listening to the radio while he is driving.
  • While I was sleeping, my neighbor was playing loud music.

We usually use when when we talk about two situations that happen at the same time:

  • When I got home I took off my suit and relaxed.
  • I got nervous when the boss called me into his office.
  • When I woke up I noticed it was raining.

We also us when, not while, when we talk about different points in our life:

  • When I was a kid, I was very curious about electronic equipment.
  • Jack played basketball when he was in high school.
  • When my parents got married they lived in the suburbs.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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