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Whilst vs. While—When to Use Each Word?

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.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

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.

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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.”

Examples:

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.”

Examples:

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.

Video Examples:

Doctor Strange (2016)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Notting Hill (1999)
Star Trek (2009)
EnglishWhich is correct

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.