During vs For vs While – English Grammar Exercise

As these 3 words all pertain to concepts of time, they are very commonly mistaken by non-native English speakers.


We use during in order to describe WHEN one action is happening. It is usually at the same time as another action, similarly to while, but it precedes a noun instead of a verb.

Structure: verb + during + noun

I kept coughing during that exam.
She went to the bathroom 3 times during the meeting!
He wants to finish the novel during his vacation in the mountains.
Most people got lost during the game.


One of the most confusing words in English due to its multi-functionality (see get!), for can be used in this context to describe how long something happens. It is used as part of an answer to the question ‘how long…?’.

Structure: for + length of time

I’ve worked for this company for 3 years.
I’ve been dancing ballet for over 10 years!
I usually work out for 30 minutes a day.
We waited for an hour for you outside the mall.


Most commonly confused with during, this word is used to describe when one thing is happening at the same time as another. The biggest difference between these two words is the structure.

Structure: while + subject + verb

I love listening to music while I study.
They always make so much noise while I’m working!
Can you wash the dishes while I take a shower?
I asked her to walk the dog while I’m on vacation.

During vs For vs While

Choose during, for, or while

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