Do you agree that

1) I often read when my son sleeps.

2) I often read while my son sleeps.

mean different things?

Do you find 1) wrong?


They express pretty much the same thing, just have a slightly different focus. Using 'when' puts the emphasis on the time, while using 'while' shifts the emphasis to the activity. Using 'while' is more personal because it assumes you are aware of his sleeping, and that your reading stops when his sleeping stops. Using 'when' doesn't carry the same intimacy.

  • The worrying thing for me is that some natives speakers in another forum consider 1 very clumsy and unacceptable. At least they say this "it makes it sound as though your son's falling asleep triggers some sort of conditioned reflex by which you compulsively pick up a book the instant he falls asleep.;) I don't think you're trying to describe a psychological problem ... or are you?" – user1425 Jan 17 '16 at 5:52
  • There is no basis for the question of a psychological problem, given there is no indication of anything out of the ordinary. If the question said while my 46 year old son sleeps, then things could arise but taken at face value, a perfectly normal statement. – Rxdoxx Jan 18 '16 at 18:06

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