Another confusing word pair in the English language is whilst vs. while. Even though they often have the same meaning, there are some cases when you can’t use one word instead of the other.
Making a difference between them will help you understand when to use while and whilst and whether they are interchangeable in a certain situation.
Whilst—Meaning, Usage, and Examples
Whilst can be a conjunction or adverb meaning “at the same time as,” “during the time that something else happens,” or “whereas” for contrast. It’s considered a more formal version of “while” and is more used in British than in American English.
She made a few calls whilst she waited.
Whilst I appreciate your help, I want to do this by myself.
While—Meaning, Usage, and Examples
While has the same meaning as “whilst” when you use it as a conjunction or adverb. It’s the more commonly used word in general.
While I was at her house, I noticed she had a few cats.
I want to be with her, while she wants to be single.
But you can also use “while” as a noun, indicating “a period of time,” or as a verb, indicating “spending time in a leisurely manner.” While you can do this with “while,” you can’t do it with “whilst.”
She was here for a while and then left. (as a noun)
He always whiles away his time when I’m not at home. (as a verb)
What’s the Difference Between Whilst and While?
While both words can be used as an adverb or conjunction, only “while” can be used as a verb or noun. So, if you need an adverb or conjunction in a sentence, feel free to use either word, as they both have the same meaning.
But, if you need a verb or noun, you can only use “while.”
I texted her while waiting for you to come.
I texted her whilst waiting for you to come.
Keep in mind that “while” is a more commonly used word, and “whilst” is more formal and sometimes can even sound awkward.