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    #1

    Post using when or while?

    Dear teachers,

    Can you please tell me which one of the following sentences is more appropriate?

    #1 Tom burnt his hand when he was cooking the dinner.
    #2 Tom burnt his hand while he was cooking the dinner.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: using when or while?

    Use "when" for this.

    Use "while" for two things that are going on at the same time. He simmered the green beans while he carved the roast.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  2. kfredson's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: using when or while?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Use "when" for this.

    Use "while" for two things that are going on at the same time. He simmered the green beans while he carved the roast.
    Yes, I would also use 'when.'
    "Tom burned his hand when he was cooking the dinner."
    "While" implies two actions which had some duration. Presumably he burned his hand only for a moment, so that does seem to call for "when."

    But I believe that you would get away with either form here.

    As for burnt, I have always understood that the past of "burn" is "burned." "Burnt" is an adjective, as in "His burnt hand."

    But according to this exchange the English might use "burnt" as simple past. (See particularly post number 11.)

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    #4

    Re: using when or while?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Can you please tell me which one of the following sentences is more appropriate?

    #1 Tom burnt his hand when he was cooking the dinner.
    #2 Tom burnt his hand while he was cooking the dinner.
    ***NOT A TEACHER***May I join the discussion? I suspect that Americans would be comfortable using either. But I read (Sorry! I forget where) that there is a distinction -- at least among some speakers. So I think some people would say: Tom burned his finger while he was cooking dinner. The explanation is: You did something that took a short time (burned your finger) during an activity that took much more time (cooking the dinner). Similarly: I was cooking when I burned my finger. (Same reasons.)

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    #5

    Re: using when or while?

    I think both when and while can be used in this case. 'while' has a feeling of being slightly longer. For example, he kept burning his hand while cooking. But, 'when' has a feeling of a shorter time or a moment in time.

    Good question though. I did some research on the differences and wrote a post about the differences - read about when vs. while.

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