Whats The Difference Between A While And AwhilePublished December 1, 2017
What is the difference betweena whileandawhile?
Few word pairs capture the idiosyncrasies(peculiar characteristics) of the English language likea while and awhiledo. Both of these terms are expressions of time, but one is written with a space while the other is one word.
In fact, these two terms represent different parts of speech. The two-word expression a while is a noun phrase, consisting of the article a and the noun while(which means a period or interval of time).
The one-word awhile is an adverb that means for a short time or period. Although these definitions are similar (and although the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably), there are a few simple rules that can help you keep them straight.
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How do you usea whileandawhilecorrectly?
The noun phrase a while can (and often does) follow a preposition, such as for or in. Heres an example: He said he would be home in a while.
The adverb awhile cannot follow a preposition. This is a rule that makes sense if you revisit the definition of the term (for a short time or period) and drop it into a sentence: He said he would be home in for a short time or period. However, if we get rid of the preposition and rewrite it as He said he would be home awhile, the sentence works with a slightly altered meaning (he will be home for a short time instead of he will be home in a period of time).
How do you usewhile on its own?
The base word in both of these expressions, while, is most commonly a conjunction, meaning during, although, or throughout the time that. Heres an example: She ate the cookie dough while he greased the baking sheet.While can also be a verb meaning to cause (time) to pass, especially in some easy or pleasant manner. Example: She whiled away the hours ruminating on the differences between awhile and a while.
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