There has recently been an abundance of confusion all over the internets concerning the usage of while and whilst, and how they differ from each other. This article was written to give a solid resolution and clear up any confusion that may exist.
While is much more commonly used than whilst. You will almost never hear the word whilst spoken in American English, but in British English it is still occasionally used. It is very likely that you would be laughed or stared at for using whilst in America. Whilst is essentially a deprecated version of while (continue reading for more information).
Back in the times of Middle English, the suffix -s was often appended to words in order to indicate the use of an adverb. (Whiles is an even less common example of a different form of while.) However, somewhere along the humongous timeline of the English language, confusion arose. Superlatives were soon mismatched with this -s ending, and it became -st, as is the ending of a superlative. Soon, many modified words arose, such as the following:
- again/against (These two words originally meant the same thing, but against has earned an exceedingly different connotation in modern English.)
In conclusion, it truly doesn’t matter if you choose to use whilst instead of while, or vice versa. In many places in England, using whilst has gained a more formal connotation than while. Whilst is also seen much more in writing than in speech, as to Americans and British alike, it just doesn’t sound correct to say whilst. Phonetically, it is harder to speak whilst, which may have been one of the winning factors for while‘s success.
Source: World Wide Words
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