I am trying to find a proper word to use in the following sentence.

While I am creating a schematic I always try to check every single part several times


When I am studying I always try to focus on the subject and don't pay attention to anything else

I hope the idea is clear. I want to describe something that I do regularly and put emphasis on an action (positive one).

Please suggest the best choice.


2 Answers 2


While and When:

There is no need for two I personal pronouns in the two clauses:

While creating a schematic, I always etc. When studying, I always focus, etc.

As does not apply here.

  • Thanks for pointing out, appreciate your help. But could you please suggest what is better to use in such sentences ? And whether there is any difference between two words ? Mar 22, 2017 at 17:07
  • While is during, when is at the time you do something. I am sure those exist in your mother tongue.
    – Lambie
    Mar 22, 2017 at 17:19
  • I disagree with as does not apply here. Although it would normally come after the main clause (He [does something] as he eats), there are thousands of written instances of As he eats he (does something else too). Mar 22, 2017 at 17:52
  • @FumbleFingers For pete's sake: "I want to describe something that I do regularly and put put emphasis on an action (positive one)." /As he eats he does something else too/ does not meet her criteria. Of course one can make as sentence beginning with as. Surely, I was talking stylistics for this purpose and not grammar!
    – Lambie
    Mar 22, 2017 at 18:20
  • Simmer down! :) So far as I'm concerned, since it's perfectly possible grammatically to use as instead of while/when in OP's context (relating to a regular or repeated action), it's misleading of you to assert that it "does not apply here". You're making a stylistic choice (which I would obviously agree with), but the implication of the wording in your answer is that this is a matter of correct/incorrect grammar. Mar 22, 2017 at 18:56

As commented by @Lambie, in constructions like OP's while always means during [some extended period of time]. Although when is often used with exactly the same sense, it can also be used to mean at the same instant in time. Consider...

1: While I was watching TV, lightning struck the aerial.
2: When I was watching TV, lightning struck the aerial.

...where both while and when clearly both mean during (they both refer to the period of time that I was watching TV). But reversing the sequence to...

3: ?? While lightning struck the aerial, I was watching TV.
4: When lightning struck the aerial, I was watching TV.

...creates a real problem with #3. Since a lightning strike is instantaneous, you must assume I'm referring to an extended period of time during which the aerial was struck more than once - but how could I continue to watch TV after the first strike?

In practice the default assumption on hearing #3 would be that the speaker doesn't have very good command of English, but in other contexts the when/while distinction can be used perfectly naturally to convey different meanings.

5: When I hit him, the crowd cheered.
6: While I hit him, the crowd cheered.

The default assumption there would be that in #5 I only hit him once, whereas #6 refers to an extended beating. Note that it's at least possible for #5 to mean each time I hit him, but in practice I'd probably use whenever if that was what I meant.

Note that as is also used to mean while, during in some contexts, but because it can also mean since, because, it wouldn't usually be used in contexts like OP's example.

It's worth making a couple more points. Firstly, none of the commas in my examples are actually required. Secondly, it's perfectly possible to place while/when between the two clauses (replacing the comma). Doing this makes #3 and #4 semantically equivalent to #1 and #2 (When he arrived, I left means the same as I left when he arrived; we've just reversed the order of the clauses).

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