The sentence 1 is ungrammatical because a clause has to follow メwhileモ.
I think 3 is still a bad sentence with メonモ, or is it somehow acceptable?
Can 3 considered as a reduced sentence of 4,?

1. *I visited Paris while the vacation.
2. I visited Paris during the vacation.
3. *I visited Paris while on the vacation.
4. I visited Paris while I was on the vacation.


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Sentence 1 is not correct, for the reason given by Mitsuko. "While" needs a clause, whether finite (with a verb marked for tense) or nonfinite (without a tense-marked verb) Sentences 2, 3, and 4 are all correct. "While" can certainly be used with a prepositional phrase such as "on vacation" denoting a state. It is also used with adjectives and participles:

While sick with chicken pox, Frederick managed to support his family by doing some freelance editing

While flying to her next reporting assignment, Susan realized that she really wanted to retire to a desert island

Sentence 3 can be considered a reduced version of 4.

The "reduced" adverbial clause is common in written style, but not common in casual conversation. That 's why, for stylistic reasons, the full clause, as in 4, would be preferable in informal style.

What is not correct about all the sentences is the use of "the" in "on the vacation." The correct expression is "(be) on vacation." One is on vacation, on leave, on trial, on duty, etc.

(It is also possible to use a possessive:

They visited Paris while on their vacation

The possessive is unnecessary, however, since the state of being on vacation is automatically assigned to the grammatical subject of "be." You can't be on someone else's vacation.)

Marilyn Martin
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I see. If the following sentence (1) works, does (2) work as well?
(1) I visited Paris while on vacation.
(2) I called my family as soon as at the station.

Oh, no, (2) doesn't work. Your have to say

I called my family as soon as I was at the station

I was talking about the adverb while, not any other adverb or adverbial phrase. And I was listing a few expressions that are used with while that do not have the definite article, such as

be on vacation
be on leave
be on duty

Others are

be on parole
be on probation
be on call ("be ready at a moment's notice to go to work")

These are fixed phrases that denote status, not physical location, and are about the only ones I can think of right now. Can any other members supply more?

Marilyn Martin
"When" can be used with the same list of expressions as have been posted for "while."

The sentence

I'm always here when in need

...can't be understood, however. It would mean that the person is always "here" when that same person is in need. If the person means to talk about someone else being in need it would be

I'm always here when you're in need

You can use "when in need" in sentences like

When in need, she always calls her mother

Students should not hesitate to get in touch with crisis counselors when in need

There are differences between "while" and "when." "While" is always durative but "when" is not always durative.

Marilyn Martin

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