Posted by: episystechpubs | May 22, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Revisiting awhile for a while

Yesterday I had a request to bring this topic back for a refresher: When should we use “a while” and when should we use “awhile.”

The original article was written by Ali Hale, for

A while is a noun meaning “a length of time.”

  • “I slept for a while.”
    (compare with “I slept for a bit” and “I slept for three hours”)
  • I was away from my desk for a while.”

(compare with “I was away from my desk for two minutes”)

Awhile is an adverb, meaning “for a time,” or literally, “for a while.”

  • “I slept awhile before dinner.”
    (compare with “I slept deeply before dinner”)

As you can see, the words can be used almost interchangeably in some cases – but a while needs to be accompanied by a preposition, such as “for” (“I slept for a while”) or “ago” (“I left work a while ago”). Awhile always means “for a while.”

My kind of answer to a math question:

From F in Exams, by Richard Benson

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  1. […] For a previous article on this topic, see this issue of the Editor’s Corner. […]

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