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Is It While or Whilst?

Have you ever considered adding a bit of flavor to your writing and thought to yourself, “can I use ‘whilst’ here, or do I have to use ‘while’?” While and whilst are two words that generally have identical definitions. However, that isn’t always the case; therefore, you can’t always use whilst rather than while.

Generally, Brits use whilst and Americans use while. That’s the primary difference. When they’re used as a conjunction or an adverbwhile and whilst are interchangeable:

Example    There wasn’t much Tina could do while she waited.

Example    There wasn’t much Tina could do whilst she waited.

Example    While Sonny was sleeping in, his little brother swiped his laptop.

Example    Whilst Sonny was sleeping in, his little brother swiped his laptop.

While may also be used as a verb and a noun, however, and whilst can’t:

Incorrect      We chatted for a whilst.

Correct        We chatted for a while.

Incorrect      I used to whilst away the long summer days at the lake.

Correct        I used to while away the long summer days at the lake.


Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award-winning Guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries. – The Guardian

The food market, while it shares that trait that everybody’s in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary”. – The New York Times


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By Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business writing and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in media and journalism and has contributed to a slew of printed and online media, including Contra Costa Times, Daily American, the The Tri-Town News,, and many more.

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