Another Key Word to Use   Leave a comment

There is another word that I do not hear most of my intermediate students using that is really vital in English.  Instead, many of you are using the improper word that does not have the meaning you are intending.   Look at the following sentence, but don’t look ahead until you can figure out what is wrong with it:

He was walking across the room with smoking.

Can you tell which word is wrong?  What would be the right word to use in order to get the meaning across?

“With” is not the right word to use.  The word you want to use here is “while.”   This gets across the meaning that the man was walking and smoking at the same time.

He was walking across the room while smoking.

By the way, not in my house!

According to the dictionary…

While means “during the time that.”  In other words, it is showing two things are going on at once.  Here are some examples –

I was taking photos while I was out hiking.

Rockbound Trail, Desolation Wilderness, CA

Silver Fork of the American River near Kyburz, CA

▪ You can get the photos developed while you wait.

▪ Someone called while you were out.

▪ The phone rang while I was doing the dishes.

▪ They met while they were in college.

▪ We should enjoy this good weather while it lasts. = We should enjoy this good weather while we can.

▪ Can I get you anything while I’m at the store?

In none of these sentences would it be appropriate to use the word “with.”  In all of these sentences, something else occurs (or is occurring) at the same time one action is going on.

Let’s try to see if you understand this.  Which of the two sentences needs to use “while” instead of “with?”

He likes to have coffee with sugar and cream.

She was thinking about what to have for dinner with running.

Which sentence is wrong?

The first one is correct, because we are not speaking about two ACTIONS going on at the same time.  It is just two things put together – the sugar and the cream.

The second is incorrect.  The correct sentence is:

She was thinking about what to have for dinner while she was running.

Can you see the difference?  This second sentence is talking about two actions happening at the same time, or one beginning to occur at the same time the other is ongoing.

Try to practice this today.  See if you can catch yourself doing two things at the same time and construct a sentence with the word “while.”  If you are not sure about your usage, please ask me during our appointment.

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Posted August 30, 2013 by laurieflood in Uncategorized

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