While and when/ can you use them interchangeably


Can when and while be used interchangeably.

Doctor: You have a very serious virus.
Stubborn patiet: Telling me I have a very serious virus when it is nothing but a simple chill?

Why when in this sentence and not while? I heard it on television. Can anyone shed some light on this please?



Yes, in some cases, when and while can be used interchangeably to refer to two things that are happening simultaneously.

Are you telling me I have a very serious virus when it is nothing but a simple chill?
Are you telling me I have a very serious virus while it is nothing but a simple chill?
are both correct and have the same meaning.

Just be careful, because in other cases, “when” is used to show a cause and effect. In this usage, “while” cannot be substituted.

My mom gets mad when I don’t clean my room. correct
My mom gets mad while I don’t clean my room. incorrect



Thanks for your answer Luschen.

But could you give me some more sentences when ‘when’ and ‘while’ cannot be used interchangeably. By the way the other day I was watching an episode of ‘Dynasty’. Dex says to Alexis;
‘I’m sorry I fell for a woman like that.’
Alexis: ‘When you could have me.’ It was something like that. I hope you can make sense of this.
Show me what is a ‘cause and effect’. As an American native speaker you know so much more of the beautiful English lingo. Mind you I prefer BrE, but I think AmE is enormously charming as well. (Don’t you think I should write a novel? BrE and AmE are the main characters. Oh, God please say ‘No’, :-))



Ha, that might be a good novel. But honestly, there is really not much difference at all between the two dialects. Maybe a love story between two people who think they are different, but really almost exactly the same? :wink:

Yes, your example is:

“Why settle for Sally when you could have me?” While will not work here.

Some other examples where “while” cannot be substituted for “when”:

When you get to New York, make sure to see Times Square.
“Doctor, it hurts when I raise my arm over my head like this.” “Then don’t raise your arm over your head like that!”
I see an angel when I look into your eyes.
When will you be done with your paper?
You will know it when you see it.
I always get nervous when I have to make a speech.

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Thanks for your reply, Luschen

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