Caroline was skiing when she broke her leg.

Is when a conjunction or adverb? Can I replace when with the word and?

Are there ways to rephrase this sentence?

  • The sentence as written conveys clear information. It clearly portrays the circumstance related to the accident. "when" connects "skiing" and "broke". If we used "and", we know that she was skiing and we know that she broke her leg - but we do not know the two events were related. An alternative phrasing is "Caroline broke her leg while skiing." If we write "Caroline broke her leg and was skiing", that's less definite. Apr 22, 2019 at 1:24
  • 1
    @EdwardBarnard: I would vote your comment, if you made it a proper answer.
    – virolino
    Apr 22, 2019 at 5:51
  • @virolino: You're on! Answered as properly as I could :) Apr 23, 2019 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


The sentence as written conveys clear information. You could rewrite it as "Caroline broke her leg while skiing" and keep the same meaning.

Both your "when" and my "while" clearly connect the two events (skiing and breaking). If you substitute "and", you name the two events but they are not so clearly connected to each other. "Caroline was skiing and she broke her leg" could simply be naming two unconnected events that happened last Tuesday (for example). To be sure, the speaker probably meant "skiing when she broke" when he or she said "skiing and she broke".

"Caroline broke her leg while skiing" clearly conveys the circumstances surrounding the accident - she was skiing. "Caroline broke her leg and was skiing" is not quite as clear. I would respond to that statement by asking, "Do you mean Caroline was skiing with a broken leg in a cast? Awesome!"

As noted in the comments, "when" or "while" connect clauses, and are therefore conjunctions.

  • 1
    "When" / "while" connect clauses, therefore they are conjunctions. No doubt. You can edit the answer with this information.
    – virolino
    Apr 23, 2019 at 5:48

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