We are often perplexed, when using these prepositions of time. Though these words seem to be similar in meaning they can be used in different grammatical context. The following explanation and examples show the difference between during, while and for:
(i) During – The word ‘during’ can be used as preposition and not a conjunction. It states an event when something happens. It is always followed by a ‘noun’. We also use during + time word (the morning, afternoon, summer, etc.)
Hint: During + noun
— I always sleep during the afternoon
— She is busy during the weekend
— We are not allowed to talk during the official meeting.
— Water consumption decreased during the winter season.
(ii) While – “While” is termed as subordinating conjunction like the words “because” and “if”; The sentence always starts with a subordinate clause.
In order to make a sentence, a subject and verb should follow “while” according to the hint given below.
Hint: While + subject + verb
— While we were studying, the power went off
— Christopher read a book, while I watched television
— My mother was brewing coffee, while it was raining in the morning.
— While you were sleeping, your phone rang twice.
(iii) For – “For” can be used as a time expression and to denote how long something goes on.
It usually refers time like (hours, week, years, ages)
Hint: for + a period of time
— We watched cartoons for 3 hours last night.
— Clara is going away for a month in September.
— where have you been? I’ve been waiting for ages.
— Are you going away for the weekend?
Things to be noted:
When you are talking about the future, use the present (and not ‘will’) after the word “while”:
— I’ll be in London next week. I hope to see tom while I’m there. (not ‘while I will be there’)
— What is he going to do while his mom cooking? (Not ‘while mom will be cooking’)