Comma Before While | Correct Use, Examples & Worksheet

The word “while” can be used in a couple of different ways. Whether you should put a comma before “while” depends on how you’re using the word.

You should put a comma before “while” when you’re using it to link two parts of a sentence, with the same meaning as “whereas” or “although.”

Example: “While” meaning “although”
Some students enjoy working independently, while others prefer group projects.

You shouldn’t put a comma before “while” when you’re using it to mean “when” or “during the time that.”

Example: “While” meaning “during the time that”
John slept while Eva studied.

Similar rules also apply to using commas with the subordinating conjunctions “as well as” and “because.”

When to use a comma before while

“While” is often used to mean “whereas” to contrast two statements. In these instances, “while” should always be preceded by a comma.

Examples: Comma before while
Some people enjoy large social events, while others prefer small social gatherings.

Electric cars are environmentally friendly, while cars with petrol engines aren’t.

Newborns require constant care and attention, while older children generally don’t.

When you don’t need a comma before while

“While” can also be used to mean “at the same time as” or “during the time that.” In this sense, it’s used to show that two things are occurring simultaneously. In these instances, “while” should not be preceded by a comma.

Examples: No comma before “while”
Our car broke down while we were on a road trip.

The guests arrived while Sara was getting ready.

It was while you were sleeping that your friend called.

While at the start of a sentence

When “while” is used at the start of a sentence, a comma should always appear at the end of the first clause. This is the case regardless of whether you’re using “while” to mean “whereas” or “when.”

Example: “While” at the start of a sentence
While Jason was on holiday, he went to the beach every day.

While I appreciate your feedback, I’m going to stick with my original plan.

While it is technically summer, it’s still not warm.

Comma after “while”

A comma should only appear after “while” when it’s followed by an interrupter (i.e., a parenthetical expression that qualifies a statement or adds emphasis). In these instances, a comma should also appear after the interrupter.

Example: Comma after “while”
While, in my opinion, it’s a good book, I understand why you don’t like it.

Worksheet: Comma before or after “while”

Test your understanding of how to use commas with “while” with the worksheet below. Add commas wherever you think they’re needed.

Is this article helpful?
Eoghan Ryan, MA

Eoghan has taught university English courses on effective research and writing. He is particularly interested in language, poetry, and storytelling.