Mentre (while): Italian grammar lesson 105

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Mentre vs durante: Meaning

Do you know how to say “while” in Italian? How about how to use “mentre“?

In Italian, we have two main words to talk about actions that happen at the same time: the conjunction mentre (while) and the preposition durante (during).

These words express contemporaneity and are used to describe events that take place simultaneously.

Ascolto la musica mentre corro.

I listen to music while I run.

A volte dormo durante il giorno.

Sometimes I sleep during the day.

while italian

Mentre vs durante: Explained

Mentre is a conjunction, and it can be used to describe simultaneous events that happen in the present, past, or future.

Mentre always links two clauses and it usually appears before a verb.

Mentre + verb

Mentre cammino mi piace fischiettare.

I like to whistle while I walk.

Ti aspetto qui mentre vai in banca.

I’ll wait for you here while you go to the bank.

Durante is a preposition used to indicate that something is happening at the same time as an event.

It is not used to link two clauses, but it usually precedes a noun or pronoun (the event), to state that something is happening simultaneously to that event.

Durante + noun

Ho letto durante tutto il volo.

I read during the whole flight.

Non mangio mai durante le riunioni.

I never eat during meetings.

what does mentre in italian mean

Mentre: Another meaning

Be careful though!

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Sometimes mentre can have a different meaning. This conjunction is also widely used with a connotation of contrast.

Have a look at the examples below, they have nothing to do with time and contemporaneity!

Io voglio uscire, mentre lui vuole stare a casa.

I want to go out, whereas he wants to stay in.

Giorgio dice che ci sarà il sole, mentre io credo che pioverà.

Giorgio says it will be sunny, while I think it will rain.

In this case, mentre has a similar meaning to the conjunctions invece (instead) or ma (but), expressing contrast.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Mentre vs durante: Examples

Have a look at these examples of the use of mentre and durante (careful, the last one is not about two simultaneous actions!)

Qualcuno ti ha chiamato mentre dormivi.

Someone called you while you were sleeping.

Mentre vai a fare la spesa io preparo il pranzo.

While you go shopping I will cook lunch.

Spero di riuscire a dormire durante il viaggio.

I hope I will be able to sleep during the trip.

Ho provato a concentrarmi durante la lezione, ma ero troppo stanca.

I tried to concentrate during the lesson, but I was too tired.

Mio fratello vuole mangiare la pizza stasera, mentre io preferirei una zuppa.

My brother wants to have pizza tonight, while I would prefer soup.

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