Is it correct to use the conjunction "While" at the beginning of the following sentence?

While hearing the bad news, l told everybody in the village.

I think "While" is not correct, so we could use "On" or "After" instead.

Am l correct?

  • "On" or "after" would be better, Note, though, that "while" is a preposition in modern grammar, not a conjunction.
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 16:39
  • While and when are often equivalent and interchangeable. The cited example isn't remotely idiomatic with while, but when works fine - provided we switch from the continuous to Simple Past with explicit subject: When I heard the bad news, l told everybody in the village. In that context, we know pragmatically that when means "immediately after" rather than "at the same time" (a shift in meaning which is only possible with when, not while). Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:38
  • Does this answer your question? When / while + past continuous/simple. Also usage of 'while' and 'when' and others. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:43
  • In this type of sentence, while often means two things happening at the same time, for example - "While washing the dishes, I listened to the radio." Your sentence means that you were telling everyone in the village at the same time as you were hearing the bad news. Only likely if you were doing a simultaneous translation in front of the crowd. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


"On" is definitely better, "while" implies that you were telling people at exactly the same time as you were hearing it which sounds very odd. "After" also works but explicitly implies a time relationship, whereas "on" just implies one thing leading to another causally, which I think is the intention behind using "while".

  • 2
    You're right, WHILE seems very odd. How can someone listening at the bad news and tells other people at the same time.
    – Mo Ali
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 10:50
  • So you knew the answer all along! Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 11:01
  • Actually, l wasn't sure of the answer, so l wanted confirmation.
    – Mo Ali
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 18:05

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