“During” and “while” are used to indicate that another activity is happening at the same time. Although they are similar, they are not interchangeable.

Overview
DuringWhile
When something happens within a particular period of timeWhen two activities are happening at the same time.
“During” + noun“While” + clause

During

1. To state when something happens within a particular period of time.

“During” can mean:
– from the beginning to the end of a particular period of time.
– at some time between the beginning and end of a particular period of time.

  • “We bumped into friends a few times during our vacation.”
2. “During” + noun

As a preposition, “during” is followed by a noun.

Here, an activity (noun) is happening at the same time but it also represents the length of time.

  • “I heard someone’s phone go off during the concert.”
  • “Babies will wake up a few times during the night.”

It is incorrect to use a specific amount of time.

  • “I slept during the movie.”
    Not – “I slept while the movie.”
    Not – “I slept during two hours.”
Similar prepositions: “For” or “During”

If you want to say how long or the specific amount of time something happened, you would use “for” instead.

  • “I slept for two hours.”
  • “We stayed for several nights.”

While

1. To describe two activities happening at the same time.

“While” can mean:
– during that time.
– at the same time as.

  • “I was listening to music while I was cooking.”
  • “We went to the NGV while we were in Melbourne.”
2. “While” + clause or “While” + [subject + verb]

As a conjunction, “while” is followed by a clause (subject + verb).

Although “during” is in the definition of “while,” the clause describes the activity that is happening at the same time.

  • “I slept while my husband was watching a movie.”
    Not – “I slept while the movie.”
    Not – “I slept during my husband was watching a movie.”
  • “You shouldn’t drink or eat sushi while you’re pregnant.”

Original posts: 18 April 2021

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