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During vs. While

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Common mistakes

  1. (NG) During working, I can’t use my iPhone.
    1. (OK) During work, I can’t use my iPhone.
  2. (NG) Can you listen to music while work?
    1. (OK) Can you listen to music while working?
  3. (NG) During Tuesday, I was really busy.
    1. (OK) On Tuesday, I was really busy.

Grammar words and phrases in context

My company has some strict rules about using cell phones. Basically, while we are working, we are not allowed to use our cell phones. This is especially true during meetings. The boss feels that while working, we should be spending our time on the company’s tasks rather than our personal ones. I think he’s right!

During

We use during followed by a noun (but not a gerund). Usually, that noun is some kind of event that happens over time. For example, you can say during dinner, during work, during the day, during the meeting, during my childhood, etc.

  1. I can’t use my cell phone during work.
  2. We don’t watch TV during dinner.
  3. During the meeting, the presenter made several interesting points.

Keep in mind, we don’t use during followed by a time word. So, you can say, “I was quite busy on Tuesday,” but not, “I was quite busy during Tuesday.”

 While

We use while followed by a gerund.

  1. I can’t use my cell phone while working.
  2. Please don’t watch TV while eating.
  3. While giving his speech, the presenter made several interesting points.

You can also use while followed by a subject and verb. Generally, the verb is in the simple present, present/past continuous, or simple past.

  1. I like to listen to music while I do my homework.
  2. While I was eating lunch, I read my book.
  3. You are not supposed to use your cell phone while you are working.
  4. The boss kept talking to me while I worked.

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