Difference Between When and While

When vs While

When and While are two words that are often confused when it comes to their usage. They are normally confused as words conveying the same meaning due to the appearing similarity in their connotations. There is of course some difference between the two words.

The word ‘when’ is often used in the sense of ‘once’. On the other hand, the word ‘while’ is used in the sense of ‘even as’. This is the main difference between the two words. Take a look at the two sentences given below:

1. You bring that book when you come home next time.

2. The batsman walks back to the pavilion when he gets out.

In both the sentences given above, the word ‘when’ is used in the sense of ‘once’ and hence, the first sentence would be rewritten as ‘you bring that book once you come home next time’, and the second sentence could be rewritten as ‘the batsman walks back to the pavilion once he gets out’.

It is interesting to note that the word ‘when’ is used sometimes in the formation of interrogative questions indicating time as in the sentence ‘when will you come again?’ In this sentence, the word ‘when’ is used in the interrogative sense indicating time.

Look at the two sentences given below:

1. She entered the house while her friend came in.

2. Francis gave the book to me while she looked on.

In both the sentences, the word ‘while’ is used in the sense of ‘even as’ and hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘she entered the house even as her friend came in’ and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘Francis gave the book to me even as she looked on’. This is an important observation to make when it comes to studying the usage of the word ‘while’.