awhile, a while

These words cause trouble with spelling, but their meanings are easily distinguished. While is a noun meaning "a period of time" and with a is correctly spelled and pronounced as two words in a sentence such as "Ellie had to wait a while for the bus." The meaning of awhile is "for a period or interval of time." The for is definitely part of the meaning, so that it is wordy to write "I then rested for awhile." The distinction between awhile (an adverb) and while (a noun) is shown in this sentence: "He asked me to stay awhile, just a little while longer."

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • awhile - a while — ◊ awhile Awhile is an adverb used after a verb. It means for a short period of time . I may have to stay there awhile. Can t you just wait awhile? ◊ a while A while is an indefinite period of time. You can say that someone does something …   Useful english dictionary

  • awhile — awhile, a while Both expressions have the same origin in the word while, but it should be noted that awhile is strictly adverbial whereas a while is a noun phrase (very often preceded by for): • When he reached the street sign he stopped awhile… …   Modern English usage

  • Awhile — A*while , adv. [Adj. a + while time, interval.] For a while; for some time; for a short time. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • awhile — [adv] for a short period briefly, for a bit, for a little while, for a moment, for a spell, for a while, for the moment, momentarily, not for long, temporarily, transiently; concept 798 …   New thesaurus

  • awhile — [ə wīl′, əhwīl′] adv. [ME < OE ane hwile, a while] for a while; for a short time …   English World dictionary

  • awhile — O.E. ane hwile (for) a while, usually written as one word since 13c …   Etymology dictionary

  • awhile — a•while [[t]əˈ(h)waɪl, əˈwaɪl[/t]] adv. use for a short time or period: Stay awhile[/ex] • Etymology: bef. 1000; ME; OE āne hwīle (dat.); see a I, while usage: The adverb awhile is always spelled as one word: We rested awhile. The noun phrase a… …   From formal English to slang

  • awhile — /euh hwuyl , euh wuyl /, adv. for a short time or period: Stay awhile. [bef. 1000; ME; OE ane hwile (dat.); see A1, WHILE] Usage. The adverb AWHILE is spelled as a single word: After stopping in Hadley awhile, we drove to Deerfield. As the object …   Universalium

  • awhile — [[t]ə(h)wa͟ɪl[/t]] ADV: usu ADV after v Awhile means for a short time. It is more commonly spelled a while , which is considered more correct, especially in British English. He worked awhile as a pharmacist in Cincinnati. N UNCOUNT Awhile is also …   English dictionary

  • awhile — adverb Date: before 12th century for a while Usage: Although considered a solecism by many commentators, awhile, like several other adverbs of time and place, is often used as the object of a preposition < for awhile there is a silence Lord… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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