During is a preposition. It means “in a period of time.”
Some common collocations with during are:
- During class
- During the day
- During the exam
- During the flight
Each of the nouns lasts for a period of time—a class fifty minutes, a day 24 hours, an exam two hours, a flight ten hours. The events of the main clause happened in that time period.
During the class, we studied vocabulary.
During the day, I drink a lot of coffee.
While is a subordinator.
It makes an adverb clause of time, and is usually followed by a subject and a verb. The verb is in the continuous form—present or past continuous. Here are some examples:
- While I am studying / While I was studying
- While she is working / While she was working
- While they are taking the test / While they were taking the test
While can also be followed by just the present participle (-ing form) of a verb. This is a reduced adverb clause of time.
While taking the test
We would never mix these forms together. To say “during taking a test” or “while a test” would be wrong.
Practice: Which do you need? During or While? (Answers below)
- ____________________ sleeping, I don’t like noise.
- ____________________ the night, I prefer silence.
- We shouldn’t talk ___________________ a test.
- We shouldn’t talk ___________________ people are taking an exam.
- ____________________ I was riding on the bus, I saw many people on their phones.
- ____________________ my bus ride, I saw many people on their phones.
- Do players ever eat ___________________ a game?
- Do players ever eat ___________________ they are playing a game?
Answers: While, during, during, while, while. during, during, while.