when while

As, when and while are conjunctions. In some uses as, when and while can mean the same, but they can also have slightly different meanings. We use them vĩ đại introduce subordinate clauses.

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We can use as, when and while vĩ đại mean ‘during the time that’, vĩ đại connect two events happening at the same time:

Another coach-load of people arrived as we were leaving.

We often use them with the past continuous vĩ đại refer vĩ đại background events:

When the men were out working in the field, I helped with milking the cows, feeding the calves and the pigs.

While he was working, he often listened vĩ đại music.

We can put clauses with as, when and while before or after the main clause. When they come before the main clause, we use a comma:

As she was leaving the court, a crowd of photographers gathered around her. (before the main clause, followed by a comma)

Steven was very unhappy when things weren’t going well for him.

Lucy came into the room while he was waiting.

We can use as vĩ đại introduce two events happening at the same time. After as, we can use a simple or continuous size of the verb. The continous size emphasises an action that interrupts or occurs during the progress of another action:

As she walked vĩ đại the door, she thanked them for a lovely dinner.

As they were signing the contract, they noticed that a page was missing.


We can use when vĩ đại introduce a single completed sự kiện that takes place in the middle of a longer activity or sự kiện. In these cases, we usually use a continuous verb in the main clause vĩ đại describe the background event:

He was walking back vĩ đại his flat when he heard an explosion.

Depending on the context, when can mean ‘after’ or ‘at the same time’.


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when meaning ‘after’

I eat ice cream when I am on holiday.

when meaning ‘at the same time’

We often use just with when or as vĩ đại express things happening at exactly the same time:

The phone always rings just when I’m closing the front door.

She was a brilliant gymnast, but she had a terrible accident in 1999, just as her career was taking off.

While and as

We can use while or as vĩ đại talk about two longer events or activities happening at the same time. We can use either simple or continuous verb forms:

We spent long evenings talking in my sitting-room while he played the music he had chosen and explained his ideas.

We were lying on the beach sunbathing as they were playing volleyball.

When and while without a subject

We can use when and while without a verb, or without a subject + auxiliary verb be:

Go past the village signpost and you get vĩ đại a church. When there, take the next turning right. (formal)

He read his book while waiting for the bus. (while he was waiting)


We can’t use as in this way:

We ate our sandwiches as we walked around the park.

Not: … as walking around the park.

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