The difference between while and whilst

A man watches paint dry

John whiles away his time watching paint dry

What is the difference between while and whilst?

There is no difference between while and whilst when they are used as conjunctions. They are interchangeable, with whilst being used more in the UK. Whilst is perhaps seen as a little old-fashioned.

Conjunction

  • Nothing happened while you were away.
  • Nothing happened whilst you were away.

Beware

Whilst cannot be used as a verb or a noun, but while can.

While (verb) – to pass time in a leisurely manner – often collocates with away

Examples:

  • John whiles away his time watching paint dry.
  • The boys while away their afternoon playing in the river.

While (noun) – a period of time

Examples:

  • We watched the birds for a while before walking on.
  • I will stay here for a while.

Tip

Always use while to avoid making mistakes.

Posted in Practical English.