Whilst and While: No More Confusing Usage

You may be more familiar with while. You must have heard of whilst. And you know that they have the same usage. Wait! There are some differences between whilst and while you want to know!

Similarities between Whilst and While

When used as conjunctions and relative adverbs, while and whilst mean the same. And they are interchangeable.

during the time when something else happens/ at the same when something else is happening

This is one of the most common meaning you may encounter when using whilst and while.


  • Britney felt so lonely whilst/while Dennis was away for work.
  • Whilst/While she was dancing on the floor, he couldn’t help staring at her.


Whilst and while are used here to show the contrast of two things that don’t seem to have anything in common.


  • John loves swimming, whilst/while his brother enjoys cooking.
  • Jessica is an amazing singer, whilst/while Kim is a great dancer.

in spite of the fact that

The two words can be understood as although. As you can see, whilst and while show that two things can have the “cause and effect” relationship but they don’t.


  • My mother thought I should take an art class, whilst/while I was not interested at first, I did enjoy it a lot.
  • We were all afraid of the outside, whilst/while we could have stayed till morning, we decided to leave as soon as possible.

Differences between Whilst and While

The differences between whilst and while are not so hard to tell. While can be used in a sentence as noun, verb, or preposition. However, whilst CAN NOT be applied with the same functions.


  • We went out for a while. (while used as a noun)
  • My kids love whiling away the whole morning in the garden. (while used as a verb)

In fact, while is used much more often than whilst. In American English, it’s quite impossible to hear the word whilst. Whilst is more likely to be used in British English, but not very often. You may find that whilst is usually applied in writing to create a more formal tone.   


Now, let see how well you understand how to use whilst and while. Complete the simple exercise below to review what you have read.

Choose whilst, while or both:

  • I tried to stay dry whilst/while it’s raining heavily.
  • I closed my eyes and enjoy the fresh air for a whilst/while.
  • We whilsted/whiled away all the weekend staying at home and watching movies.

Answer: 1-both, 2-while, 3-whiled

If you want to learn more about confusing words in English, feel free to download eJOY Confusing Words ebook right now!

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Thank you for reading this article about the differences between whilst and while. I wish you all the best in your English learning journey.

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