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For, during and while

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For, during and while are used in time expressions.


For is a time expression followed by a length of time – for an hour.

Examples with for:

I have been waiting for an hour.
Sarah is going to Spain for ten days.
Henry lived in France for five years.


During is followed by a noun. It is used to explain what happened throughout the period or in the course of an action or event.

Examples with during:

We always like to travel during the summer.
The results of the test were given to us during the lesson.
The accident occurred during the night.


While is followed by a subject and a verb.
While is used to explain an action that occurs during the time another action was taking place.

Examples of while:

They held hands while they were watching the film.
The journalists took notes while the President was speaking.
We will pick some flowers while we’re walking along the lake.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Now complete the following with for, during or while:

  • 1. Peter's been waiting at the station _ over an hour.

  • 2. I went shopping _ David was preparing the flat for the party

  • 3. Sarah knows New York well. She lived there _ 5 years.

  • 4. My parents come over to Malta _ the summer for a couple of weeks.

  • 5. I ordered the pizzas _ the others were watching the game.

  • 6. I usually go jogging _ an hour every morning.

  • 7. _ the Christmas holidays we usually visit friends and relax.

  • 8. In Europe, when you are at a cafe you can stay at the table _ as long as you like.

  • 9. I revised my notes for the test _ I was travelling to school.

  • 10. I hate it when a phone rings _ a film at the cinema.