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Someone help me

What is the difference between when and while?
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Comments  (Page 4) 

CalifJim wrote:


We see both fiddling and burning as points of time in the past.
One thing I would change about your most recent post is this.

We see both fiddling and burning as activities which were taking place during periods of time in the past.

(Fiddling and burning take too long to be points in time. )

CJ

I see, but it should have a difference with the continuous aspect, shouldn't it? In retrospect, can't they be points in time? Maybe the difference is the emphasis.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

(The two events can be seen as points of time. While stresses that these two events happened at the same time. When would not be as emphatic here I think, butn I won't insist on that if you do not agree.)

Nero was fiddling while Rome was burning.

(The two events can be seen as periods of time. While emphasizes the progressiveness even more.)

What do you think?
Well, I'll tell you what I think (and I think so because I read about this somewhere).

While + simple tenses, simple tenses = from the beginning to the end of the action or event described in the while-clause.

While she cleaned our old house, I tried to get my old PCs to work again. (I tried to get them to work, and that's what I did throughout the period of time when she was cleaning)
Wait here and don't move while I go get some more weapons. (Wait and don't move until I get back. You have to wait throughout the period of time when I am busy getting weapons)

...does that make sense? Emotion: smile
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While + simple tenses, simple tenses = from the beginning to the end of the action or event described in the while-clause.
Apply this to Nero fiddled while Rome burned and you have Nero fiddling until the fire is completely out. I don't think so. He may have fiddled a while, taken a dinner break, and come back to fiddle some more, and then gone to bed -- all before the flames were extinguished -- but you can still say he fiddled while Rome burned. So I don't buy that explanation!

CJ
Hmm, at this point I could say that "when" and "while" are used the same way as in Italian... but I know that's not true!
Unless I can say sentences like these:

While I slept, the burglars got in. (= while I was sleeping)
Someone must have stole it while I worked in the laboratory (= while I was working in the laboratory)

The progressive forms are better, but you could use the other too in Italian. Emotion: smile
The while I slept example is OK to my ear, but not the while I worked example. Go figure.
But you're right -- the progressive is better in both cases.

CJ
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Ok, end of the story.
No one knows the difference between while and when exactly, and no one can explain the difference, obviously. So let's just say we need to avoid odd combinations and just use the usual ones, which are enough (this is what native speakers do most of the time, I guess).
And now everyone is happy! LOL
what is difference between while and whilst?
This has been discussed before.

See the thread starting at While vs Whilst.

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
To Anonymous:)

By using 'while' shows that it has hapenned for quite some time. By using 'when' shows that it just happened. Example1; I was eating when the phone rang. This example shows that the phone just rang when I was eating. Example2; I was eating while the phone rang. This example shows that the phone has been ringing for quite some time while I was eating. I hope that you've understood my explaination eventhough it's quite complicated... Well thank you for the question ^-^

Best wishes, Yana:)
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