Grammar Tips & Articles »

While vs. Whilst

It has been a while since I wrote anything on Grammar.com. Whilst, it is nice to be back, I would want myself to be regular from now on. Yes, you guessed it right – this article is about to remove your confusions regarding usage of while and whilst. While is more commonly used than whilst, the latter is believed to be even outdated by most Americans. Whilst is mostly used in British English, though way lesser than while. While can be used as a conjunction, preposition, noun or verb, whereas ‘whilst’ is used only as a conjunction or adverb.

156 Views
  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

While as a conjunction and adverbWhen used as conjunction/adverb, both the words mean during or at the same time as. They can also mean whereas (in the context of comparison). In the above sentence, we can replace ‘whereas’ with while or whilst and both will be correct.

While and whilst are same in meaning when used as a conjunction/adverb. Examples

·         The thieves entered their house while/whilst they were away for vacation.

·         While/whilst we appreciate your sincerity, we don’t have any new requirements for your skills.

·         A few people in the team prefer day outing, while/whilst others are more interested in a night out.

·         While/whilst you were away, your friends came and took your cricket kit.

Meanwhile – meanwhile indicates between a time period. For example, you are waiting for a bus. During that time, you talk to your mother on phone, while waiting for the bus. This gap is indicated with the word meanwhile.

1.       Finish your homework. Meanwhile, I will prepare nice dinner for you.

2.       He was reading a book. Meanwhile, I picked up some groceries for the week.

3.       Get the treatment done soon. Meanwhile, I will give you some pain killers.

4.       We were talking nicely. In the meanwhile, our teacher came and scolded us for not doing the class work.

Note that in all the sentences, we can replace meanwhile and use while. ‘While’ will then join the 2 sentences and make it one. For example, “Finish your homework while I prepare nice dinner for you”, or “While we were talking nicely, our teacher came and scolded us for not doing the class work.”

While as a noun

As a noun, while is used to indicate a period of time.

·         It will take a while for the bus to start.

While vs. Whilst

·         He spoke to me for a while and then left.

Notice the use of ‘a’ in every sentence when we use while to indicate a time-period.

While as a verb

As a verb, while is used to indicate passing time or spending time on things just for the sake of it.

·         Don’t while away your time, study for your exams.

·         Instead of whiling away your afternoons, you can take up some hobby classes.

·         Stitching helps me while away my time when the kids are not at home.

Note that we use ‘away’ along with while.

While as a preposition

Though while is rarely used as a preposition, it is not incorrect. It has the meaning ‘until’. For example,

·         Can you wait while Saturday, so we can go for shopping together?

·         I will not leave her while she feels better.

As we have seen, while is used in many contexts. However, whilst can be used only as adverb or conjunction. While is more common and you should prefer using while over whilst whenever you are in doubt.

Rate this article:(5.00 / 1 vote)

Have a discussion about this article with the community:

Citation

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"While vs. Whilst." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 16 Oct. 2019. <https://www.grammar.com/while_vs_whilst>.

Free, no signup required:

Add to Chrome

Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

Free, no signup required:

Add to Firefox

Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

Free Writing Tool:

Instant
Grammar Checker

Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!


Improve your writing now:

Download Grammar eBooks

It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.



Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.