Monday, March 6, 2017

Grammar Point: Should there be a Comma Before “While”?


One point of grammar about “while” is whether or not there should be a comma before “while”. Which is the correct use?

Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
Or
Harry was working in the garden, while Grant was mowing the lawns.

Amanda is a very nice girl while her brother Gerry is a little horror.
Or
Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

It all comes down to what context “while” is being used for. If “while” means “at the same time”, the comma is not used. However, if “while” means “whereas”, the comma is used. So when this rule is applied to the examples above:

Correct sentence: Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
“While” in this sentence means “at the same time”, so there is no comma before it.
Correct sentence: Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

“While” in this sentence means “whereas”, so the comma is used before it.

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