How to say “while”: Italian grammar lesson 105

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Key Takeaways

Dive into the Italian language and master the art of timing with “mentre” and “durante”. This guide will clarify when to use each word to perfectly express simultaneous actions or contrasts like a native!

  • Conjunction Junction: Mentre is your go-to conjunction for linking two actions happening at the same time. It’s like a linguistic dance partner, always paired with a verb.
  • Preposition Perfection: Durante is the preposition that loves to buddy up with nouns or pronouns, setting the stage for an event that’s happening alongside another.
  • Timing is Everything: Whether it’s past, present, or future, mentre has got you covered. It’s the Swiss Army knife in your Italian toolkit for all things simultaneous.
  • Contrast with Class: Plot twist! Mentre isn’t just about timing; it’s also a pro at showing contrast. Think of it as the ‘however’ in your sentence, adding that spicy twist.
  • Context is Key: Remember, durante won’t link your clauses. It’s not the glue; it’s the spotlight, focusing on the event that’s occurring at the same time as another.

Get these tips down, and you’ll be juggling mentre and durante like an Italian circus performer in no time! 🎪🤹‍♂️

Quick facts

How do you say "while" in Italian?

In Italian, "while" is translated as "mentre."

What is the primary function of "mentre" in Italian?

"Mentre" is a conjunction used to describe simultaneous events.

How does "durante" differ from "mentre"?

"Durante" is a preposition indicating simultaneous events but precedes a noun or pronoun.

Can "mentre" be used in different tenses?

Yes, "mentre" can describe simultaneous actions in the present, past, or future.

What structure follows "mentre"?

"Mentre" is always followed by a verb, linking two clauses.

When does "durante" typically appear in a sentence?

"Durante" usually precedes a noun or pronoun to indicate simultaneous events.

Can "mentre" have a meaning other than time-related?

Yes, "mentre" can express contrast, similar to "invece" or "ma."

How does "mentre" express contrasting ideas?

"Mentre" can be used to juxtapose differing preferences or opinions.

What is a common mistake when using "mentre" and "durante"?

Confusing "mentre" as a preposition and "durante" as a conjunction is a common error.

Why is it crucial to understand the difference between "mentre" and "durante"?

Proper usage ensures clarity in expressing simultaneous actions or contrasting ideas in Italian.

My Thoughts

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.

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.

Mentre: Another meaning

Be careful though!

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.

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, but I would prefer soup.

Practice with Quizlet

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

Mentre vs durante: what to remember?

We have two main words in Italian to talk about things that are happening at the same time: the conjunction mentre (while) and the preposition durante (during).

These words can be used to describe events that occur together.

Mentre is a conjunction, and it is used to explain simultaneous actions that take place in the present, past, or future.

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It always connects two clauses, and it usually comes before a verb.

Durante is a preposition used to show that something is happening alongside an event.

It doesn’t link two clauses, but it usually goes before a noun or pronoun (the event) to illustrate that something is happening at the same time.

Be aware that mentre can also have a different meaning! This conjunction is often used to express contrast, similar to invece (instead) or ma (but). It has nothing to do with time or contemporaneity in this case.

We hope this post helped you understand how to use mentre and durante correctly!

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

How do you use Mentre in Italian?

The conjugation mentre is always followed by a verb and the English equivalent of mentre is "while."

How do you use Durante in Italian?

Durante is never used with a verb: it is always followed by a noun! Its meaning is "during/throughout"

What is Mentre in the Italian language?

The conjunction mentre (while) and the preposition durante (during) are the two main words used in Italian to explain simultaneous events.

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l’influenza
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You have a fever! Yes, I got influenza.
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