English use of When and while – Adverb

What is the difference between when and while?

Both when and while can be used to talk about actions or situations that take place at the same time.

Swan identifies the following differences:

1 Backgrounds

We can use both words to introduce a longer ‘background’ action or situation, which is/was going on when something else happens/happened.
Somebody broke into the house when they were playing cards.
While they were playing cards, somebody broke into the house.

Note that when and while clauses can go at the beginning or end of sentences.

2 Simultaneous long actions

We usually use while to say that two longer actions or situations go / went on at the same time.
While you were reading the paper, I was working.

If we are talking about ages and periods of life, we use when:
When I was a child we lived in London (NOT While I was a child …)
His parents died when he was twelve (NOT … while he was twelve)

3 Simultaneous short actions

We can use (just) when to say that two short actions or events happen / happened at the same time:
I thought of it (just) when you opened your mouth.

While is not possible in this situation.

4 Reduced clauses

It is often possible to leave out subject + be after when and while:
While/When in Germany, he got to know a family of musicians. (=While/When he was in Germany …)

Practical English Usage, Michael Swan, OUP, pp. 73-74

While vs whilst

There is no difference in meaning between these two words. In British English whilst is considered to be a more formal and literary word than while. The different spellings that exist today have their origins in changes to the words in Middle English and later.

English use of Rather

We can use rather as an adverb of degree. It means “less than ‘very’ but more than ‘a little’. It can be used to modify adjectives, adverbs, noun phrases, comparative adjectives, too and verbs, and is used mainly with words and ideas that have negative meanings:

Cambridge Dictionaries Online gives the following examples:

adverb [not gradable]
quite; to a slight degree
It’s rather cold/difficult.
Let me give you a different book – I think you’ll find it rather easier.
The train was rather too crowded for a comfortable journey.
The dress was rather more expensive than I was expecting it would be, so I didn’t buy it.
She answered the telephone rather sleepily.
I’ve rather foolishly lost their address.
I rather think you should consider the trouble this decision will cause.
I rather doubt I’ll be able to come to your party.
She’s rather an egoistic, don’t you think?
It’s a rather boring film.

Used with words and ideas that convey a positive meaning, rather means “unusually” or “unexpectedly”:

Cambridge Dictionaries Online gives the following examples:

rather (VERY)
adverb, predeterminer [not gradable]
very; to a large degree
I was rather pleased to be invited to the wedding.
Actually, I did rather well in my exams.
He’s a rather nice man.
He’s rather a nice man.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online also lists the following meanings for rather:

adverb more accurately; more exactly
She’ll go to London on Thursday, or rather, she will if she has to.
He’s my sister’s friend really, rather than mine.
The dress is rather pink than purple.

Rather can also be used to express an opposite opinion.
The ending of the war is not a cause for celebration, but rather for regret that it ever happened.
No, I’m not tired. Rather the opposite in fact.

rather than in preference to; instead of
I think I’d like to stay at home this evening rather than going out.
Why don’t you wear the black shoes rather than the brown ones?
He likes starting early rather than staying late.

Rather one person than another person means that the second person certainly does not want to do what the first person is doing.
“I’ve got to have two teeth out next week.””Rather you than me.”

rather (YES)
certainly; yes
“Do you want to come out for dinner with us this evening?” “Rather!”

To see many examples of the use of rather, see the Web Concordancer. Type rather into the ‘search string’ field, select any corpus in the ‘select corpus’ field, and then click on the ‘search for concordances’ button.

English use of Much and many

Much and many are determiners. Much is used with uncountable nouns and many is used with plural nouns:
There isn’t much sugar.
Do you have many relations in America?

Much and many are usually used in negative sentences and questions:
We didn’t have much luck today.
Have you got much more work to do?
There aren’t many hotels in this town.
Do you know many people around here?

Much is not usually used in affirmative sentences. For these, we prefer a lot of or lots of:
He has got a lot of money (NOT much money)
There is a lot of rain coming later today (NOT much rain)

Many can be used in affirmative sentences, but a lot of or lots of is more common in spoken English:
There are many ways to approach this (or lots of ways)
Many people are living below the poverty line (or lots of people)

Much can be used in affirmative sentences when it is preceded by so, too or as:
There is so much work to be done.
I think that he has got too much responsibility.
Drink as much water as possible during the race.

English use of Little and few

Little is used with uncountable nouns:
There is little water left, so drink only what you must.
I have little reason to think they will help.

Few is used with plural nouns:
There are few men who are capable of doing it.
I know few places that I could recommend to you.

Used in this way, little and few have somewhat negative meanings:
I have little reason to think they will help = I would like to have more reason, but unfortunately I haven’t.
I know few places that I could recommend to you = I would like to be able to recommend more places, but unfortunately there aren’t more.

Used in this way, little and few are also quite formal. We can say the same thing in a less formal way by using not much and not many:
I don’t have much reason to think they will help.
I don’t know many places that I could recommend to you.

When we use the indefinite article a before little and few, it has a more positive meaning, similar to some:
We’ve got a little bread = We’ve got some bread.
We’ve got a few biscuits = We’ve got some biscuits.

Before a pronoun or a determiner, (a) little of and (a) few of are used:
Take a little of this and a little of that.
Sorry, but we only have a little of it.
Take a few of these and a few of those.
Sorry, but we only have a few of them.

It’s high/about time: expressions in english

“It is high time the government took action.”

The expression “It is (high/about) time + past verb test” is used to complain about or criticise something or someone:
It is time that the government took action.
It is about time that the government took action.
It is high time that the government took action.

The words about or high make the criticism even stronger. Note that it is also correct to say:
It is time for the government to take action.

In time vs on time: expressions in english

What is the difference between on time and in time?”

“What is the difference between in the end and at the end?”

Michael Swan’s excellent Practical English Usage (Oxford University Press), provides a succinct answer to both of these questions:

“On time = at the planned time; neither late nor early:
Peter wants the meeting to start exactly on time.

In time = with enough time to spare; before the last moment:
He would have died if they hadn’t got him to the hospital in time.” p. 450

“In the end = finally, after a long time:
In the end, I got a visa for Russia.

At the end = at the point where something stops:
I think the film’s a bit weak at the end. p. 450

English use of : Frequency of adverbs

When we want to say how often something happens, it is common to use frequency adverbs. It is possible to use them when referring to the past, present or future:
We often went camping when we were children.
I usually go to the gym at lunchtime.
I will always love you.

The following list shows the most common adverbs of frequency, with the one that refers to things that happen most often at the top, and least often at the bottom:
Hardly ever

I always brush my teeth before I go to bed. (=every night)
I usually have toast for breakfast. (=happens most days)
I frequently watch the news before dinner. (=it’s common)
I often go to the park with my dog. (=many times)
I sometimes see him down at the shops. (=at particular occasions but not all the time)
I occasionally visit the capital. (=not happening often or regularly)
I rarely smoke cigars. (=it is not common)
I seldom have a chance to go to the theatre. (=almost never)
I hardly ever travel abroad. (=almost never)
I never work on the weekend. (=not at any time or not on any occasion)

Adverbs of frequency can occupy different positions in the sentence. With most verbs, the normal position is between the subject and the verb. With the verb “to be”, the adverb normally comes after the verb:
Pedro occasionally visits us on Sundays.
She is often ill in winter.

Use of Enough and too – Adverbs

Enough means “sufficient”, or”as much or many (of something) as necessary”.

Too means “more than enough” or “more than is needed or wanted”.

Enough comes after adjectives and adverbs:

It isn’t hot enough to go for a swim.
We’re not moving quickly enough.

Enough comes before nouns:

We have enough time.
There isn’t enough flour to make the cake.

Too comes before adjectives and adverbs:

It’s too cold to go for a swim.
You’re driving too fast.

When we put too before nouns, it goes in the expressions too much and too many. Too much is used before uncountable nouns. Too many is used before countable nouns (See more about): countable and uncountable nouns:

You put too much sugar in my coffee.
There is too much poverty in the world.
There are too many people to fit in the car.

Use of either and neither

Either and Neither are used with an auxiliary or modal verb to express agreement in the negative (as compared to expressing agreement in the affirmative, when we use “Too” or “So”), e.g.
“I haven’t been to France. I haven’t either / Neither have I.” (“I have been to France. I have too / So have I.”)
“I can’t see the screen. I can’t either / Neither can I.”

Either is used with a negative verb; Neither is used with an affirmative verb.

Use of Such

What is the difference between such and such as?

The use of such as is relatively simple. It is used with a noun to introduce examples:

He likes playing sports such as tennis, football and swimming.
At such times as Christmas and Easter, many people take holidays.

The use of such is more complicated. In Practical English Usage (Michael Swan, Oxford University Press), the following principle uses of such are described:

1) In the formal style, such + noun can be used to mean ‘like this / that’ or ‘of the kind that has just been mentioned’. Such comes before a / an.

The committee is thinking of raising the subscription. I would oppose such a decision.
There are various ways of composing secret messages. Such systems are called ‘codes’ or ‘ciphers’.

p. 568

2) Such is often used when we are talking about a high degree of some quality – in situations where very is also a suitable word. In this sense, such is common before adjective + noun.

I’m sorry you had such a bad journey. (= You had a very bad journey, and I’m sorry).
It was a pleasure to meet such interesting people.

p. 569

3) In an informal style, such can also be used to give new information, when the speaker wishes to emphasise what is said.

He’s such an idiot!
She has such a marvellous voice!

p. 569

Note also the difference between such and so. We use such before a noun (with or without an adjective).

It’s such good weather at the moment
They are such clowns!

We use so before an adjective on its own (without a noun) or an adverb.

The weather is so good at the moment.
Please don’t speak so quickly.