Using A Comma In Front Of “While”

    • You should not use a comma in front of while when you mean “during the same time.”
    • You should use a comma in front of while when you mean “whereas” or “although.”

When the word while is used as a conjunction, it has two meanings. One meaning is related to time. In the material sense, while describes something happening simultaneously with something else. The other meaning of while denotes a contrast. For this purpose, it means “whereas” or “although.”

No Comma With While Means “At the Same Time”

You should not use a comma before while when talking about two things happening simultaneously.

Correct           I decided to take a nap under my desk while everyone else was at lunch.

Incorrect       I decided to take a nap under my desk, while everyone else was at lunch.

Correct           Let’s order the towels while they’re still on clearance.

Incorrect       Let’s order the towels, while they’re still on clearance.

Comma With While Means “Whereas” or “Although”

You must use a comma before while in the middle of a sentence when you mean “whereas” or “although.”

Correct           I like red velvet cake, while my mother prefers lemon meringue pie.

Incorrect       I like red velvet cake while my mother prefers lemon meringue pie.

Correct           The price of bread is rising, while the cost of eggs has stayed the same.

Incorrect       The price of bread is rising while the cost of eggs has stayed the same.

While at the Beginning of a Sentence

If while is the first word of your sentence, you clearly shouldn’t add a comma in front of it. But if you’re utilizing while to mean “whereas,” you still need to put a comma somewhere. You should put it at the end of the clause that while introduced. The comma needs to go between the things being contrasted or that are happening simultaneously.

Correct           While my mother prefers lemon meringue pie, I like red velvet cake.

Correct           While the cost of eggs has stayed the same, the price of bread is rising.

 

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