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'During Doing Something' or 'While Doing Something'?

(Last Updated: 14 September 2022)

During Doing Something or While Doing Something: Which One Is Correct?

Don't say during doing something. We use during before nouns and noun phrases:

Students are not allowed to use their mobile phones during class. (noun: class)

It's fun to go swimming during the summer. (noun phrase: the summer)

I always have my window closed during the night. (noun phrase: the night)

During the war, Britain's colonies sent millions of men to fight for Britain. (noun phrase: the war)

Instead, we could say while doing something:

They chatted while waiting for the bus. (= while they were waiting)
They chatted during their wait for the bus. (noun phrase: their wait for the bus)
They chatted during waiting for the bus.

I twisted my ankle while playing tennis. (= while I was playing)
I twisted my ankle during my tennis practice. (noun phrase: my tennis practice)
I twisted my ankle during playing tennis.

The plane was forced to land while flying over North Korea. (= while it was flying)
The plane was forced to land during its flight over North Korea. (noun phrase: its flight over North Korea)
The plane was forced to land during flying over North Korea.

Don't take off your mask except while eating or drinking! (= while you are eating or drinking)
Don't take off your mask except during meals! (noun: meals)
Don't take off your mask except during eating and drinking!

Examples from the Media

During a power cut, do not use candles in case the wind knocks them over and starts a fire. —BBC (2017)

As coronavirus cases and deaths piled up during the fifth wave [of the pandemic], authorities imposed some of the strictest social-distancing rules, closing down gyms and entertainment venues, as well as limiting dining out and gatherings. —South China Morning Post (2022)

A Victorian abattoir has been fined $350,000 following the death of a worker crushed while cleaning a machine used to restrain cattle for slaughter. —The Age (2013)

Prominent pedestrian safety advocates are slamming proposed "distracted walking" legislation that would prohibit people in Ontario from using a cellphone while crossing the street. —Toronto Star (2017)

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