1

Taken from First Certificate Language Practice, by Michael Vince, page 78, exercise 7, sentences 2) and 7):

2) John has done well in French, but not so well in Maths. (to be rewritten as, says the key:)

  • While John has done well in French, he has not done so well in Maths.

(could also be written as:)

  • John has done well in French while he has not done so well in Maths.
  • While John has not done so well in Maths, he has done well in French.
  • John has not done so well in Maths while he has done well in French.

7) I'm not going to pay, although I know that I should. (to be rewritten as, says the key:)

  • While I know that I should pay, I am not going to.

(could also be written as:)

  • I am not going to pay while I know I should.

(but not as:)

  • *I know that I should pay while I am not going to.
  • *While I am not going to pay, I know I should.

So, in this case, the order of the clauses matters, whereas it did not in the previous case. Why?

  • Perhaps the first example compares two results, the second a cause and intent – mplungjan Jan 16 '14 at 12:51
1

This is because there are two 'while':

one is a coordinating conjunction, expressing contrast between two clauses without any cause-effect relationship between them, as in sentence 2), a 'while-whereas'; you can say that A differs from B, or that B differs from A… it does not make any difference!

the other is a subordinating conjunction, expressing opposition between two clauses linked by a cause-effect relationship, as in sentence 7), a 'while-although'

It should normally follow from the fact that 'I know I should pay' that 'I am going to do it.' but it is the opposite which happens 'I am not going to.'; the 'while-although' introduces the inefficient cause – it concedes that something which should normally act as a cause exists, that is why it is called 'concessive' – not the opposite of the expected result.

Similarly, there is a contrastive 'but-whereas' – no cause-effect relationship – and an oppositive 'but-contrary-to-what-should-logically-have-followed'.

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  • I find these buts interesting, but I am a bit wary of venturing them once again, because when I last did so, I got them spanked – downvoted! – user58319 Jan 16 '14 at 16:23

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