She had a smile on her face, reading my texts.

She had a smile on her face reading my texts.

She had a smile on her face whilst reading my texts.

What's the difference in the meaning in above sentences? Are all of them grammatically correct?

  • Even in BrE, whilst there is somewhat "dated". Better would be while (and imho, even better would be when). Apr 5, 2016 at 17:47
  • What about the sentences where i dropped out "while"? Do we necessarily need to use something before READING here? @FumbleFingers Apr 15, 2016 at 20:47
  • None of your alternatives are particularly likely in a normal spoken context. @Chad is right to say the first is somewhat "poetic", because they all are, but they're certainly not "informal". If you were describing this (past) situation to a friend, more natural phrasing would be She had a smile on her face when she read my texts. Even more likely, just She smiled when she read my texts. Or ...as she read..., depending on the nuance you want (when implying immediately after, as a result of, as implying at the same time, during the reading). Apr 16, 2016 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


The first sentence is a little unusual, perhaps informal or poetic.

The second sentence just seems wrong.

The third sentence is the most conventional, as long as you use "while" instead of "whilst" (especially in American English).

Another option:

She had a smile on her face as she read my texts.

The gerund "reading" will not be used in informal writing. So it is better to write:

She's a smile on her face when she read my text.

By the way, it is metaphoric and means she was very pleased or happy.

  • Don't you mean "She'd"? Apr 6, 2016 at 3:44
  • None of OP's alternatives involve "gerunds". Apr 16, 2016 at 14:16

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