My sentence:

The Exchange between the teacher and the student promotes learning far different from that which results as the student listen but does not participate.

My teacher said "when" is more appropriate than "as" in this sentence, since "as" marks a duration, and "when" an instant or a shorter duration.

I don't understand the difference.

  • My first reaction was to think that as can also mean because or since, which would be entirely appropriate in this context. Jul 10, 2015 at 16:15
  • It's fine, save for the fact that it should either be "student listens" or "students listen". "When" would also work, and might be a hair better.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 10, 2015 at 16:35
  • Off-topic, but 'listen' should be 'listens'. Jul 10, 2015 at 16:35
  • I would use "as when."
    – Kingrames
    Jul 10, 2015 at 16:37
  • Exchange should also not be capitalized. Jul 10, 2015 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


Here's a good version: "The Exchange between teacher and student promotes learning far different from that which results when the student listens but does not participate."

I agree with your teacher's judgment, but I'm not sure about the reason. I suspect that instead of time intervals, what is involved is giving an argument of the verb "result", and "as" does not work for that. "Result" has two arguments: a cause and an effect. "Which" is the effect, and "when the student listens but does not participate" is the cause. "From" would also work here to give a cause -- "... that which results from the student listening but not participating."

"As" doesn't work, because it just introduces an adverb, giving an accompanying circumstance; it doesn't specify an argument. I'll confess, though, I don't understand why "when" does work here to specify an argument of "result". But it does.

  • My question which portion of a sentence involving "as" should be continuous? Both? The part after "as", the subordinate clause? Or the main clause? Jul 10, 2015 at 17:04
  • "As" is like a preposition -- it combines with a following expression, perhaps a sentence, to form an adverbial phrase (as a preposition combines with a following noun phrase to form a prepositional phrase). "When" is also like this, grammatically.
    – Greg Lee
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:32
  • So both parts are continuous? Jul 10, 2015 at 17:33
  • I don't understand your question. "Continuous" in what way?
    – Greg Lee
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:36
  • As in a course of action. Jul 10, 2015 at 17:37

"When" refers to a moment/period or "under a certain circumstances" (implicit condition, if)

"as" = at the same time that; while. Example: We get wiser as we grow older.

In your example, I too believe that "when" is a better choice, because of the condition (if) it implies.

Another example:

I'll give it to you when you stop crying - not as you stop crying.

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