during, for, while – grammar chart

during, for, while

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We use during + noun to talk about when something happens. With during, we answer the question when.

  • Some people got lost during the journey. 
  • I will finish the novel during the summer break. 
  • Most burglaries happen during the night. 



We use for + length of time to say how long  something happens. With for, we answer the question how long.

  • We have known each other for a long time. 
  • I waited for more than an hour, but I finally left. 
  • He worked in this company for over twenty years.  



We use while + subject + verb to talk about two things that are happening at the same time.

  • I had breakfast while you were in the shower. 
  • I always listen to the radio while I’m cleaning. 
  • You shouldn’t use your phone while you are driving. 


during vs for

The difference between during and for is that during  refers to ‘when’ something happens and for refers to ‘how long’ something happens. Compare:

  • Every day I run for one hour. (=How long do you run?)
  • I usually run during the weekend. (=When do you run?)


during vs while

The main difference between during and while is that we use while + clause (subject + verb), and we use during + noun. Compare:

  • I fell asleep during the film.
  • I fell asleep while I was watching the film.