You’d be surprised to learn that there aren’t rules in English that tell us we can’t start sentences with particular words. This is a common myth in schools, but we can use just about any word in the right context. This article will look at starting a sentence with while.
Can You Start A Sentence With “While”?
You can start a sentence with “while” when it’s part of the first dependent clause. We can use this to talk about something that is happening at the same time as something else. It usually means that something happens despite another thing occurring.
Generally, the two clauses that we use in sentences that start with “while” will contradict each other. They will add different groups of information to the overall sentence to help us understand what someone is doing or saying:
- While there isn’t much to do in this town, I still have a lot of fun here.
As you can see, we can use the first clause starting with “while” to come up with contradicting information before the second clause.
What Does “While” Mean At The Beginning Of A Sentence?
“While” means that the first piece of information we provide in a sentence works in spite of the second piece of information. Usually, the two pieces of information will work against each other, even though they’re both valid and correct statements.
We don’t just have to use “while” at the start of a sentence as part of a dependent clause, but it works well when we want to emphasize the contradiction. To show you what we mean, look at the two examples that follow:
- While he was out of town, I made sure that the locals wouldn’t miss him.
- I made sure that the locals wouldn’t miss him while he was out of town.
These sentences are identical. However, the dependent clause is moved around between them. We can choose to use “while” at the start of the sentence, like in the first example, when we want to emphasize the contradicting information before anything else.
Examples Of How To Use “While” At The Beginning Of A Sentence
Here are some more examples to help you wrap your head around using “while” to start a sentence.
- While you were at home lazing around, I got to work on a few things that I’m proud I completed.
- While there wasn’t much here for me to salvage, I did my best with the limited tools I had.
- While you were out getting drunk all night, I looked after your mother because she was poorly.
- While the dogs bark throughout the night, my cat stays calm and sleeps next to me.
- While the children are out in the playground for lunch, the adults are in the coffee shops trying to avoid them.
- While there is still life in my body, I will not let you get away with these terrible things.
- While you bicker and argue about irrelevant things, I’m going to make sure that my voice is heard and my problem is solved.
“While” introduces a dependent clause that works despite the second clause in the sentence. We use it to show who two conflicting pieces of information engage with each other.
Even when they shouldn’t exist in the same sentence, “while” is a great way to show how two things with different means or results can work simultaneously.
Where Should I Place The Comma When Using “While” At The Beginning Of A Sentence?
Next, we’ll show you how to punctuate “while” correctly when using it to start a sentence. Luckily, the punctuation rules aren’t too difficult to master.
You do not need to place a comma directly after “while” in any case when starting a sentence with it. Instead, you should wait until the end of the dependent clause and place the comma there. We do this to split up the two clauses.
Here’s how it looks with and without a comma:
- Correct: While there is still daylight, I make the most of the beach.
- Incorrect: While you go about your day I have to do my job and slave away.
Can You Start A Sentence With “While Also”?
“While” is a conjunction. “Also” is also a conjunction. We can use the words to combine two or more clauses, but we generally can’t include them at the same time when starting a sentence.
You cannot start a sentence with “while also” because it uses two conjunctions in place of one. This is incorrect when starting a sentence because it’s not allowing us to showcase the point we’re trying to make.
You can only use “while also” in the middle of a sentence, like so:
- Correct: He didn’t want to be there for her while also trying to find his ex-girlfriend.
- Incorrect: While also trying to find his ex-girlfriend, he didn’t want to be there for her.
Alternatives To Starting A Sentence With “While”
There are a few alternatives we can use in place of “while.” We think these are great sentence starters in their own right, and you should feel free to use them in your writing.
- In spite of the fact that
Can You End A Sentence With “While”?
We can also end a sentence with “while,” but not in the same way.
You can end a sentence with “while” when using it as a noun to talk about a length of time. It is not usable as a conjunction at the end of a sentence because it cannot connect two clauses if it comes before a period.
- He is going to be a little while.
- Look after my child for a while!
How Do You Use “While” In The Middle Of A Sentence?
We can also use “while” in the middle of a sentence.
The most common way to use “while” in the middle of a sentence is by swapping the position of the dependent clause we mentioned earlier. You may also use “while” as a noun in the middle of a sentence.
- You didn’t need to be here while I was trying to make the arrangements.
- I’m going to be a while longer!
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.