use when and while
to talk about two things that are happening at the same
I was sleeping when the
teacher finished the lesson.
He was snoring while
she was watching a movie.
is the difference between when and
WHILE: Usually we use while
when there are two long actions.
Usually we use when if one
action is long and the other is short.
We use when if there are two
We use when if we talk about
periods of our life (When I was 12 …)
The dog was barking. She was talking to her mother on the
talking to her mother = long action
dog barking = long or short (Did the dog bark for a long
time? Did it bark for a short time?)
unclear whether there are two long actions here. So we can
use when or while.
The dog was barking when she was talking
to her mother on the phone.
The dog was barking while she was talking to her mother
on the phone.
She was doing the dishes. The telephone rang.
doing dishes = long action
phone rang = short action.
She was doing the dishes when the
The alarm bell rang. He was sleeping.
He was sleeping = long action
alarm bell rang = long or short action (Did it ring for
a short time? Did it ring for a long time?)
unclear whether they are both long actions. So we can use
when or while.
The alarm bell rang while she was
The alarm bell rang when she was sleeping.
It was raining. I was watching a movie.
It was raining = long action.
I was watching a movie = long action
It was raining
while I was watching a movie.
I saw lightning. I heard thunder.
saw lightning = short action
heard thunder = short action
I saw lightning when I heard thunder.
She was driving to work. She heard the news.
she was driving to work = long action
she heard the news = probably a short action
She was driving to work when she heard
that you know the rules, you also need to know that
they are not 100 percent. They are just a guide. Often
it isn't so important which one you use, but sometimes
it is. If you understand the rules above, you'll get
it right 99% of the time!