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  1. I didn’t open the door when he was here.

It can mean I opened the door the other time.

  1. I didn’t open the door, when he was here.

Does it mean I didn’t open the door at all and I didn’t open the door especially when he was here?

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  • If you didn't open the door at all, why would you specify "when he was here"?
    – stangdon
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:26

1 Answer 1

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I didn’t open the door when he was here.

I would take this to mean "I didn't open the door while he was here" and you are right in saying you could have opened the door at other times.

I didn’t open the door, when he was here.

I don't think this really makes sense. If you wanted to convey your second meaning then I think you need to say something like "I never opened the door, particularly when he was here"

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  • i could see using the second one to represent a kind of spoken pause, to convey something like "I didn't open the door - I mean, not when he was here." But I agree that it doesn't change the meaning.
    – stangdon
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:24
  • @stangdon If someone said (not wrote) "I didn't open the door <pause> while he was here. " then I would expect an implied continuation, spoken or not "...but I did open it before he came / after he left". Although they do mean essentially the same in this context, again while works better than when to me as a native BE speaker. Dec 30, 2021 at 23:32

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