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They found a cat when/as/while they were walking in the forest.

I think “when” is better because for me it means they walked before and after finding the cat. Am I right here?

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    They all have the same meaning. – BillJ Jun 3 '20 at 9:30
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I think an English teacher is going to prefer you to use while, but it partly depends on whether there is more to the sentence, or not.

The basic meaning of when as and while are the same in this context, and are all fairly commonly used.

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