Q:when 和 while 在引導時間副詞子句時,它們的用法有何不同呢?

A:在 when 和 while 所引導的時間副詞子句中,when 子句的動詞可以為延續性動詞或非延續性動詞,但 while 子句的動詞必須是延續性動詞。因此,當 when 子句的動詞為延續性動詞時,when 可與 while 互換,這時主要子句的動作和時間副詞子句的動作是同時發生的。以 I often missed my home a lot when I was abroad. (我在國外時常常很想家) 為例,在這句中,when 可用 while 來代替,意思不變。但在 When they came home, I was cooking dinner. (他們回家時,我正在煮晚餐) 這句中,由於 came 是瞬間動詞,所以不能用 while 來代替 when。這是 when 和 while 用法的主要差異之一。

when 和 while 用法的另一差異是:when 子句的動詞通常為過去簡單式,而 while 子句的動詞往往是過去進行式。這牽涉到 when 或 while 子句的動詞與主要子句的動詞之動作發生的時間先後關係。一般而言,當 when 子句的動詞與主要子句的動詞都是過去簡單式時,when 子句的動作較早發生,此時 when 相當於 after。舉例來說,Mary stood under a tree when it began to rain. 這句是說瑪麗站在樹下這個動作是發生在下雨之後 (她一定淋到雨);如果句子改成 When Mary stood under a tree, it began to rain.,那麼這是說瑪麗站在樹下之後,雨才開始下 (她沒有淋到雨 — 如果樹葉可以遮雨的話)。弄懂這種動作發生的時間先後關係,可讓我們正確而清楚地瞭解或判斷兩個動作發生的先後順序。再舉一例:When the film ended, people walked out of the theater. (電影結束後,觀眾走出戲院)。

如果 when 子句的動詞為過去簡單式,而主要子句的動詞為過去進行式,那麼儘管一般文法書大都稱這兩個動作是同時發生,但其實不然。例如:

  • I was enjoying my dinner when my wife came home.
    = While I was enjoying my dinner, my wife came home. (我太太回家時,我正在吃晚餐)

從這句可知,吃晚餐的動作發生的時間比回家的時間還早,因為在我太太回家之前我就開始吃晚餐了,她回家之後,我還繼續在吃,所以充其量我們僅能說這兩個動作只有在她回家的那個瞬間 (即 when 子句之動作發生的瞬間) 同時發生。因此,過去進行式的動作一定比過去簡單式還要早發生;而在這種句型中,when 子句的動詞都是用瞬間動詞。

最後來討論如何表達同時在進行的兩個動作:主要子句和時間副詞子句都用過去進行式;當然,根據上述,我們要用 while 來引導時間副詞子句,而兩個子句的動詞必須皆為延續性動詞。例如:

  • While I was studying in one room of our dormitory, my roommate was having a party in the other room.
    = I was studying in one room of our dormitory while my roommate was having a party in the other room. (當我在宿舍的一個房間唸書時,我的室友正在另一房間開舞會)


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10 Comments

  1. " When they came home, I was cooking dinner. (他們回家時,我正在煮晚餐) 這句中,由於 came 是瞬間動詞,所以不能用 while 來代替 when。這是 when 和 while 用法的主要差異之一。"可是while不是"當 …."的意思嗎?為什麼不能用在非延續性的動詞呢??

  2. 您好, 謝謝您的熱心分享, 請問若有人說: When I was cooking dinner at home yesterday evening, someone knocked my door. 是否可以接受呢? 因為多數看到的例句, 都是 When S1 + Ved, S2 was/were Ving.

    謝謝

    • 不合語法。當兩個動作並非同時發生,即先後發生,而且要使用 when 時,when 須用瞬間動詞,也就是 when 須用過去簡單式。

  3. GEPT中高級閱讀能力測試
    https://www.gept.org.tw/Exam_Intro/down03.asp

    12. Some of Curt Wilder’s books have been widely read ______ others have remained relatively unknown.
    A. since
    B. until
    C. except
    D. while

    此題答案是D, why why why ~~~?

    • Some of Curt Wilder’s books have been widely read 和 others have remained relatively unknown 這兩句的意思形成對比,所以用 while 表示「然而」之意,另外三字都無此意思。

  4. Any person who is in custody while awaiting trial is considered innocent until he has been declare guilty. 請問此句的while是否為連接詞,如果是為何它後面不是接子句呢?謝謝

  5. 在其他網站中看到這些句子中when後面是接Ving,這樣不是應該錯的嗎?
    1. When I was window-shopping, I saw Amy were talking with Sue in front of a convenience store.
    3. The alarm bell rang. He was sleeping.
    He was sleeping = long action
    alarm bell rang = long or short action (Did it ring for a short time? Did it ring for a long time?)

    It is unclear whether they are both long actions. So we can use when or while.
    The alarm bell rang while she was sleeping.
    The alarm bell rang when she was sleeping.

    When (you are) crossing the road, be careful to look right, left and right again.
    I was eighteen when I got my driving license.

    When I was watching TV, the electricity went off.
    This is fine. This is saying “a POINT (went off) on a LINE (was studying)

    • 在 when 和 while 所引導的時間副詞子句中,when 子句的動詞可以為延續性動詞或非延續性動詞,但 while 子句的動詞必須是延續性動詞。

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