During or While

During or While

By Alena Lien, 

18 April 2021



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



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During



Used to state when something happens within a particular period of time.


As a preposition, "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.



"During" + noun


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


However, 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."


  • "I heard someone's phone go off during the concert."

  • "Babies will wake up a few times during the night."




"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



Used to describe two activities happening at the same time.


As a conjunction, "while" can mean:

  • during that time.

  • at the same time as.



"While" + clause / "While" + [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."


  • "We went to the NGV while we were in Melbourne."

  • "You shouldn't drink or eat sushi while you're pregnant."