when / while / whereas

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Senior Member
France French
Hi (again) I don't know exactly when to use differenctly "when / while / whereas" in that sense :

"I'm finished while / when he's still at work"

What's the difference between the three of them ?? Do you have any other examples that could help ?? thank you in advance
  • vta513

    Senior Member
    U.S.; English, Dutch

    I"m finished when he's still at work
    I'm finished while he's still at work

    I would probably agree with se16teddy. These 2 sentences seem to express a repetitive occurrence. For example, one spouse/employee finishes work at 4 while the other finishes at 8 and this happens throughout the year. So one is done with work when the other one is still at work.

    In these cases "when" relates more to time and "whereas" implies opposition between two ideas regardless of time ("while" can be used in both of these ways, time and opposition).

    Using "when" is simply one way of describing what is going on once you have finished work. "Whereas" is not merely describing what happens when you are finished but drawing a stronger contrast between the fact that you are no longer working and he is still working.

    Some examples:

    ---"I work in the garden while my children play" to express that you are doing these things at the same time (if you used "when" instead of "while" it would give the idea that you work in the garden whenever your children play, it implies causation, your children play so you work in the garden)
    ---"I listen to music when/while I cook" (whereas would not be appropriate here because there is no opposition to me cooking and me listening to music) (you could use when here also, opposed to the example above, because there is an element of causation because it is implied that you like to put on music when you are cooking, meaning you are listening to the music because you are cooking).
    ---"I work in the garden whereas my children play in the garden" (to express that you are doing something different opposed to doing something at the same time).

    Sorry for the long post, you can get carried away analyzing your own language! =)
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