While vs. Since: What's the Difference?
"While" refers to the period during which an action occurs; "since" denotes the point in time from which an action starts.
“While” and “since” are both temporal conjunctions used in the English language, but they serve different purposes. “While” is primarily used to signify that two actions are occurring simultaneously, and it’s typically used with two actions in the present, past, or future continuous tenses. For instance, you can say, “She read a book while he cooked dinner,” to signify that reading a book and cooking dinner happened at the same time.
“Since” is used to represent the starting point of an action in the past and continues in the present. It’s often used with the present perfect tense to depict an action that began in the past and has relevance to or an effect on the present moment. An example is, “She has lived here since 2005,” indicating that she started living there in 2005 and continues to live there.
Both “while” and “since” are crucial in establishing a time frame for actions, but they do it in different ways. “While” indicates a concurrent duration in which two or more actions occur, without specifically defining a start or end point. It depicts overlapping time frames, showing simultaneous occurrences.
“Since,” on the other hand, specifically denotes the commencement of an action or state and is often used to establish the length of time that action or state has been in existence. It is pivotal in denoting the continuation of an action from a specific point in time to the present.
To summarize, the use of “while” and “since” is integral in depicting different aspects of time in English grammar. “While” addresses simultaneous actions during an unspecified period, and “since” points to the inception of an action, emphasizing its ongoing nature from a definite point in time to the present.
Used for simultaneous actions.
Used to denote the starting point of an action.
Often used with continuous tenses.
Often used with perfect tenses.
Represents duration in which actions occur simultaneously.
Represents a point in time from which an action starts.
To depict overlapping time frames.
To depict the continuation of an action from a point in time.
While and Since Definitions
Indicates simultaneous occurrence.
She studies while he plays games.
For the period between a specific time and now.
She has been working here since 2000.
Even though or whereas.
While I understand your concern, we must proceed.
Because; considering that.
Since it’s raining, we should stay indoors.
A period or interval of time.
He fell asleep while watching TV.
After a specific time in the past.
He left since noon.
During the time that.
Do not talk while eating.
From then until now or between then and now
They left town and haven't been here since.
At the same time as.
He reads while she paints.
Before now; ago
A name long since forgotten.
A period of time
Stay for a while.
Sang all the while. See Usage Note at awhile.
After some point in the past; at a subsequent time
My friend has since married and moved to California.
The time, effort, or trouble taken in doing something
The project wasn't worth my while.
They have been friends since childhood.
As long as; during the time that
It was lovely while it lasted.
She's been skiing since childhood.
In spite of the fact that; although
While that guitar may look nice, it's not a very good instrument.
During the period subsequent to the time when
He hasn't been home since he graduated.
And on the contrary
The soles are leather, while the uppers are canvas.
Continuously from the time when
They have been friends ever since they were in grade school.
To spend (time) idly or pleasantly
While the hours away.
Inasmuch as; because
Since you're not interested, I won't tell you about it.
An uncertain duration of time, a period of time.
He lectured for quite a long while.
It’s a long while since anyone lived there, so it’s a ruin now.
From a specified time in the past.
I met him last year, but haven't seen him since.
A short/long time since
(US) an uncertain long period of time
From: referring to a period of time ending in the present and defining it by the point in time at which it started, or the period in which its starting point occurred.
(Philippines) an uncertain short moment
Continuously during that period of time.
I have known her since last year.
During the same time that.
He was sleeping while I was singing.
Driving while intoxicated is against the law.
At certain points during that period of time.
This case, while interesting, is a bit frustrating.
While I would love to help, I am very busy at the moment.
From the time that.
I have loved you since I first met you.
I'll wait while you've finished painting.
Since you didn't call, we left without you.
As long as.
While you're at school you may live at home.
(obsolete) When or that.
From a definite past time until now; as, he went a month ago, and I have not seen him since.
We since become the slaves to one man's lust.
To pass (time) idly.
I whiled away the hours whilst waiting for him to arrive
In the time past, counting backward from the present; before this or now; ago.
How many ages since has Virgil writ?
About two years since, it so fell out, that he was brought to a great lady's house.
(transitive) To occupy or entertain (someone) in order to let time pass.
When or that.
Do you remember since we lay all night in the windmill in St. George's field?
To elapse, to pass.
From the time of; in or during the time subsequent to; subsequently to; after; - usually with a past event or time for the object.
The Lord hath blessed thee, since my coming.
I have a model by which he build a nobler poem than any extant since the ancients.
Alternative spelling or misspelling of wile.
Seeing that; because; considering; - formerly followed by that.
Since that my penitence comes after all,Imploring pardon.
Since truth and constancy are vain,Since neither love, nor sense of pain,Nor force of reason, can persuade,Then let example be obeyed.
Space of time, or continued duration, esp. when short; a time; as, one while we thought him innocent.
This mighty queen may no while endure.
[Some guest that] hath outside his welcome while,And tells the jest without the smile.
I will go forth and breathe the air a while.
From a specific point in time in the past.
I haven’t seen him since Tuesday.
That which requires time; labor; pains.
Satan . . . cast him how he might quite her while.
And so on us at whiles it falls, to claimPowers that we dread.
Continuously from a specific past time.
It has been raining since morning.
To cause to pass away pleasantly or without irksomeness or disgust; to spend or pass; - usually followed by away.
The lovely lady whiled the hours away.
During the time that; as long as; whilst; at the same time that; as, while I write, you sleep.
Use your memory; you will sensibly experience a gradual improvement, while you take care not to overload it.
Hence, under which circumstances; in which case; though; whereas.
I may be conveyed into your chamber;I'll lie under your bed while midnight.
A period of indeterminate length (usually short) marked by some action or condition;
He was here for a little while
I need to rest for a piece
A spell of good weather
A patch of bad weather
Can “while” represent more than two simultaneous actions?
Yes, “while” can be used to describe multiple actions occurring at the same time.
Can “since” be used with specific dates?
Yes, “since” is often used with specific dates, as in, “I have known her since 1995.”
Can “while” be used to denote contrast?
Yes, “while” can also denote contrast, as in, “While I like coffee, he prefers tea.”
Is “since” only used to denote time?
No, “since” can also be used to denote causation, as in, “Since it is raining, we will stay inside.”
Is “since” used with perfect continuous tenses?
Yes, “since” can be used with perfect continuous tenses to show the duration of an ongoing action, e.g., “I have been running since morning.”
Can “while” indicate a period of time?
Yes, “while” can indicate an interval or period when something occurs, e.g., “He will arrive in a while.”
Can “since” be used with a time phrase?
Yes, “since” is often used with a time phrase, e.g., “I have been working since early morning.”
Is “while” used in conditional sentences?
Yes, “while” can be used in conditional sentences, e.g., “You can go play while I finish this.”
Does “while” always require two subjects?
Typically, but not always, “while” is used to relate two different subjects performing actions simultaneously.
Can “while” be used to depict simultaneous actions in the future?
Yes, “while” can be used to depict future simultaneous actions, e.g., “I will read while you cook.”
Can “since” be used in the beginning of a sentence?
Yes, “since” can be used at the beginning of a sentence to denote time or reason.
Is “while” interchangeable with “when” in some cases?
Yes, in some cases, “while” can be interchangeable with “when,” but “while” often emphasizes simultaneity more than “when.”
Can “since” indicate a reason?
Yes, “since” can indicate a reason or cause, e.g., “Since you are not ready, we will leave without you.”
Does “since” always refer to the past?
Typically, “since” refers to a point in the past from the perspective of the present, but it can also denote causation.
Can “while” be used as a noun?
Yes, “while” can be used as a noun meaning a period or interval of time.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.