Whilst vs. While – What is correct?

TL;DR – Both “whilst” and “while” are correct, but “while” is universally accepted in both American and British English, whereas “whilst” is more commonly used in British English and can sound formal or old-fashioned in American contexts.

Especially or Specially

“Whilst” and “while” are both words in the English language that convey a similar meaning, often causing confusion among English speakers. Essentially, they can be synonyms, both denoting a period of time, specifically meaning “during the time that” or “at the same time as.” However, their usage varies, influenced by regional dialects and historical development of the language.


Usage: This word is predominantly used in both American English and British English and has roots in Old English.

Example: I read a book while I was waiting.

While can also be used as a subordinating conjunction to contrast two statements, similar to “whereas”:

Example: John likes coffee, while I prefer tea.

Apart from its role as a subordinating conjunction, “while” can also function as a preposition and, less frequently, an adverb in English grammar.


Usage: More commonly associated with British English, “whilst” is also found in Australian and New Zealand dialects. This form traces back to Middle English and might sound formal or old-fashioned, especially to American English speakers.

Example: I’ll make tea whilst you set the table.

The main difference between the two terms, beyond regional preferences, is their placement in sentences and certain idioms. For example, the idiom “a long while” uses “while” specifically.

For ESL learners or those using a grammar checker, it’s worth noting that neither word is “incorrect.” However, “while” is more universally understood and accepted. If you’re writing for an audience in England or aiming for a slightly formal tone, “whilst” can be an appropriate choice. On the other hand, if you’re targeting American or broader audiences, “while” is often the preferred word.


  • How to use whilst and while in a sentence?

Published on: 2023-09-30
Updated on: 2023-10-05

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.