Grammar | Band 7 Clauses 1 Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

While is a subordinating conjunction. Subordinating conjunctions are used to introduce subordinate clauses (for more on subordinate clauses, follow this lesson). 

​It is common to use while to talk about time, but today we are going to look at using while to introduce a contrasting clause (a clause in which the idea it contains is different or disagrees with the idea in the main clause of the sentence). This is the type of complex grammar that examiners award a band 7 and up for.

​Look at the example below.

While I have been to France, I haven’t been to Paris.

While highlights the contrast/surprising information that the writer has visited France. But, the writer has not visited the capital city of France.

The use of the subordinating conjunction while means that we can join two sentences together making our writing more concise and sophisticated.

Notice how if the subordinate clause starts the sentence, it is separated from the main clause with a comma. If the sentence starts with a main clause, a comma is not necessary.

Activity 1 | Time or Contrast?

For each sentence below, decide if while is connected with time, or contrast.
SELECT TIME OR CONTRAST
1. Most doctors agree that preventative care requires more investment while policy makers continue to focus funding on other aspects of healthcare.
Time
Contrast
2. While there were high sales, there were increases in staff numbers.
Time
Contrast
3. My aunt and uncle often came round to our house on a Sundays while we were living there.
Time
Contrast
4. While many people think it is better for teenagers not to study the arts at school, I believe the benefits of teenagers studying the arts outweigh the disadvantages.
Time
Contrast
5. Sales of coffee increased over the period while sales of herbal tea fell.
Time
Contrast
6. While I was preparing his coffee, the other waitress, Julia, prepared her herbal tea.
Time
Contrast


​Activity 2 | Sentence Transformation

​Re-write the following pairs of sentences so that they are just one sentence containing a contrast clause with while. Use the form suggested after the 2 sentences, for example, (subordinate clause + main clause). Make sure that you use the correct punctuation and remember capitals at the start of the sentences.
TRANSFORM THE SENTENCES
Example:
​I like the taste of shellfish. I get a bad allergic reaction to shellfish.
​(subordinate clause + main clause

While I like shellfish, I get a bad reaction to it.

1. Many people think violence on TV should be banned. I think TV violence should only be allowed late at night.
(main clause + subordinate clause)
Many people think violence on TV should be banned, I think TV violence should only be allowed late at night.
2. There are many environmental and health problems associated with developing countries increasing their use of fossil fuels. Few solutions have been suggested for this problem.
(subordinate clause + main clause)
environmental and health problems associated with developing countries increasing their use of fossil fuels, few solutions have been suggested for this problem.
3. The overwhelming majority of climate scientist believe human industry is responsible for the changing climate. A very small number of serious scientists disagree that human industry is responsible for the changing climate.
(main clause + subordinate clause)
The overwhelming majority of climate scientist believe human industry is responsible for the changing climate of serious scientists disagree that human industry is responsible for the changing climate.
4. Production of the new model increased. Overall sales of all models decreased.
(subordinate clause + main clause)
of the new model increased, of all models decreased.
5. Less people were employed at the factory. It was more productive.
(subordinate clause + main clause)
were employed at the factory, .
6. Some countries benefit from the input of skilled workers from abroad. Many people believe that this damages the human resources of developing countries and should be stopped.
(subordinate clause + main clause)
from the input of skilled workers from abroad, that this damages the human resources of developing countries and should be stopped.
7. Many people will tell you that planning is the key to success. A few people will tell you that good networking and good luck are the keys to success.
(main clause + subordinate clause)
that planning is the key to success that good networking and good luck are the keys to success.

​Next time you are doing your academic writing practice, make sure you use while to help you contrast ideas or data. As usual, if you have any questions or tips that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments section below. Visit our Grammar Page for more free band 7 grammar lessons.