Student or Learner
1 She arrived WHILE/WHEN I was having breakfast
2 I was having breakfast WHEN (not while) she arrived
3 I was having breakfast WHILE (not when) Bill was sleeping
Is my understanding of the use of WHILE/WHEN right?
could you please explain rules of using of "when" and "while
NOT A TEACHER
When = shorter actions.
While = longer actions.
I was riding my bike when I fell down.
I fell down while I was riding my bike.
Explanation: the shorter action (fell down) interrupted the longer action
I was reading when the telephone rang.
The telephone rang while I was reading.
Explanation: the telephone ringing is the shorter action.
Source: British Council -- English Online, "When and While."
It seems like many people don't follow this rule anymore. Espceially, I've read on many occasions that people simply follow when with a longer action. Although I've rarely seen cases vice versa.
I am not a native speaker. Could you please tell me whether this is a general trend or not?