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  1. #1
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    Oct 2004
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    Default Need advice on using "when", thanks teachers

    Hello teachers,

    1.
    Am I correct in using "when" below? Please advice, thanks

    One day, when I was walking along the street, I saw a beautiful toy in the window pane of a toyshop ( Is "toy shop" as two separate words correct?).

    BTW, I am not very sure what is the difference btw "when" and "while" as I get mixed up with using them to describe an ongoing action with an interrupted action type of situations. Please help, thanks

    2.
    2a.Can I say, "slam the car door with a banging sound"?
    2b. Is it correct to write, " he heard a banging sound of a car door slam shut"?

    Thank you very much for advising, teachers.
    Last edited by Help Wanted; 17-Nov-2004 at 15:19.

  2. #2
    TheMadBaron Guest

    Default Re: Need advice on using "when", thanks teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Help Wanted
    Am I correct in using "when" below?

    One day, when I was walking along the street, I saw a beautiful toy in the window pane of a toyshop
    It sounds okay. (It's a bit strange to say you saw the toy in the window pane, though. It's more common to say "in the window". You saw the toy through the pane..... but the toy wasn't literally in the pane.

    Quote Originally Posted by Help Wanted
    Is "toy shop" as two separate words correct?
    I don't think it's wrong, but perhaps 'toyshop' is better, because it's a REAL shop.... not a toy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Help Wanted
    BTW, I am not very sure what is the difference btw "when" and "while" as I get mixed up with using them to describe an ongoing action with an interrupted action type of situations.
    'When' is used to describe the past, and 'while' is used to describe concurrent events. The toyshop scenario is an unfortunate example, because both work in context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Help Wanted
    2a.Can I say, "slam the car door with a banging sound"?
    2b. Is it correct to write, " he heard a banging sound of a car door slam shut"?
    Except in the most unusual of circumstances, I don't think you can slam a car door without making a banging sound, so you might as well just say "slam the car door" / "he heard a car door slamming shut".

  3. #3
    Nahualli Guest

    Default Re: Need advice on using "when", thanks teachers

    I'd like to add my 2 cents here...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMadBaron
    It sounds okay. (It's a bit strange to say you saw the toy in the window pane, though. It's more common to say "in the window". You saw the toy through the pane..... but the toy wasn't literally in the pane.


    I don't think it's wrong, but perhaps 'toyshop' is better, because it's a REAL shop.... not a toy.
    You're right about the first part, but not the second. "Toy" in this case is an adjective that describes what the shop "does" or sells, in this case toys. "Toyshop" isn't correct otherwise it would be ok to say "Grocerystore" and that's not right either.

    'When' is used to describe the past, and 'while' is used to describe concurrent events. The toyshop scenario is an unfortunate example, because both work in context.
    Not necessarily. I mean, you're mostly right but it's not that simple. "When" can describe and indefinite action in the past also, if you're using a gerund. For instance "When listening to music, I often pour myself a stiff drink."

    This sentence has a couple of indefinite actions going on at the same time yet "when" fits just fine. In that example, when and while are interchangeable. In the case of the toy store, however, the way the verb "walking" is conjugated, "when" doesn't fit. It's colloquial and even a bit common for people to use the construct "when I was walking...." but it's not really correct in this case. The only correct choice for that example is "while".

    Except in the most unusual of circumstances, I don't think you can slam a car door without making a banging sound, so you might as well just say "slam the car door" / "he heard a car door slamming shut".
    True, you can also say "he heard a car door being slammed shut", it all depends on how descriptive and verbose you want to be. Sometimes it's a good thing sometimes it's not.

    -Nah-

  4. #4
    TheMadBaron Guest

    Default Re: Need advice on using "when", thanks teachers

    I'll concede that the when / while situation is more complicated than I described it. The use of 'when' in the original sentence still sounds fine to me, though I agree that 'while' is better.

    'Toyshop' IS perfectly acceptable, as are 'bookshop' and 'bookstore'. It is entirely irrelevant that 'grocerystore' is not acceptable. Language is not logical.
    Last edited by TheMadBaron; 18-Nov-2004 at 10:29.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Need advice on using "when", thanks teachers

    Thank you to both TheMadBaron and Nahualli for your great advice. Thank you soooo much, Help Wanted.

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