Whilst vs. While: Basic Differences in Use

Learn how whilst vs. while are used in a sentence. See how you use while when speaking American English and whilst when speaking British English. Find out how to use while as a verb and a noun in a sentence.

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The Difference Between Whilst vs. While

Are you ready for the whilst vs. while showdown? While it's not a grammar smackdown, while and whilst do have a few differences. However, the most obvious difference between the two words is where you live. While is used in American English as a conjunction or adverb. Those speaking British English use whilst.

  • Terry read a book while she waited for Jen.
  • Terry read a book whilst she waited for Jen.
  • While Stephanie was doing the dishes, her brother broke the couch.
  • Whilst Stephanie was doing the dishes, her brother broke the couch.

As you can see, these two words are interchangeable within the sentence. They both show how the two things occurred in conjunction with one another.

Quick Chart Comparing While vs. Whilst

Use this quick chart to quickly understand the difference between whilst and while.

Term:

while

whilst

Where It’s Used:

American English

British English

Part of Speech:

conjunction, adverb, noun, verb

conjunction, adverb

Example:

He watched a movie while running on the treadmill.

He watched a movie whilst running on a treadmill.

Whilst vs. While in a Sentence

Ready to see some more original examples of using while or whilst in a sentence? Check out these original sentences showcasing how the words can be used interchangeably.

  • My mom started vacuuming the floor while I was listening to music.
  • My mom started vacuuming the floor whilst I was listening to music.
  • While I was doing my homework, my brother destroyed my Lego castle.
  • Whilst I was doing my homework, my brother destroyed my Lego castle.
  • She was scared while she rode the pony.
  • She was scared whilst she rode the pony.
  • He was hiding in his house while the Enderman attacked.
  • He was hiding in his house whilst the Enderman attacked.
  • They tried to watch around them while pulling money from the ATM.
  • They tried to watch around them whilst pulling money from the ATM.

While as a Noun

Whilst vs. while are interchangeable when it comes to using them in a sentence as a conjunction, but while can also be used as a noun. When used as a noun, you can’t use it interchangeably with whilst. As a noun, while is discussing a time period. See how this works through a few example sentences.

  • We have lived in this house for a while.
  • The YouTuber talked about Minecraft for a while.
  • The Muggle chatted to us for a while before running away.
  • The witch stood there for a while before leaving.
  • It has been a while since we went camping.
  • It took a while for the car to start.
  • We sat on the plane for a while before taking off.
  • I’ve been watching this YouTube video for a while.
  • My favorite YouTuber hasn’t posted a new toy video in a while.

While as a Verb

While is a pretty diverse word. In addition to being used as a noun, you can also use it as a verb (whilst can’t.) When using while as a verb, it shows time spent on something or passing. See while as a verb through these sentences.

  • He whiled away his Saturday playing video games.
  • Don’t while away watching videos, read a book.
  • She whiled away her time on her phone rather than studying.
  • They whiled away the hours before their trip watching movies.
  • We while away the boring winter nights in the hot tub.

Whilst vs. While: Brits vs. Americans

When it comes to the words while vs. whilst, it all depends on where you live and how you are using the word in a sentence. As a noun or verb use while. As a conjunction or adverb, use while if you are speaking American English or whilst in British English. Interested in looking at more idiosyncracies in English grammar, check out can vs. may in simple terms.

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