While vs. Whereas

'While' and 'whereas' are confused by learners as they are close in meaning. In this lesson, we will learn their uses, similarities, and differences.

"While" vs. "Whereas" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

'While' is a flexible word that can be used to introduce a contrast between two ideas or indicate that two actions are happening at the same time. 'Whereas,' however, is a formal word used to highlight clear distinctions or contrasts between two ideas.

Parts of Speech

'While' and 'whereas' are both used to connect clauses. They are conjunctions. Have a look:

I read it while you were away.

I like books whereas my girlfriend likes movies.

While as a Noun

'While' can also be used as a noun. We cannot use 'while' alone and it is often used to indicate data related to time. It is often accompanied by 'in a...,' 'once in a...,' and 'worth your...'. For example:

He was planning the heist for a long while.

Hello there stranger! I haven't seen you in a while.

I don't know what she is up to. I haven't contacted her in a long while.

Meaning

'While' is used to express different meanings. It can be used to express time. In this context, it shows how an action is happening during a certain time or at the same time as another action. It can also be used to show contrast between things. Remember that 'while' is more commonly used in everyday speech and writing and is considered less formal. Take a look at these examples:

He kept crying while we tried to bandage him up.

As you can see, 'while' indicates time in this example.

While I didn't believe it would happen, Jake did solve the case.

Here, 'while' indicates contrast.

'Whereas' expresses contrast. It shows the contrast difference between the two ideas. Note that 'whereas' cannot express time and is often used in formal or academic writing and is considered more formal. For example:

He looks old whereas his father looks very young.

Her car is expensive whereas my car is cheap.

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