The only difference between "a while" and "awhile" lies in how they are used in a sentence. "Awhile" is used to modify a verb. For example – "she has slept awhile." On the other hand, the form "a while" follows a preposition or couples with the word back/ago. For instance – "I will be away for a while." The phrase awhile can replace the phrase “for a while” within a sentence. One can use the word awhile instead of using “for a while.”
Is it awhile ago or a while ago? Is it correct to say in a while? I know this slight confusion is bothersome. However, if you are willing to learn, every minute or minimal confusions have its solutions.
awhile vs a while, which is the correct one? Let’s not wonder about that too much. In this article, let us help you learn the difference between these two words and their use cases.
Awhile Vs A While: Which Is Which?
Let’s start with the general meaning of a while and awhile –
- Awhile is an adverb. It means – “for a period of time.”
- A while is a noun phrase. It means – “a period of time.”
When writing something, or even during a text chat, you might wonder – “How do you use awhile in a sentence?” irrespective of how your write both of them, while pronounced, both a while and awhile sound the same. But, the use cases of both of the words are different.
Awhile Vs A While: The Difference
The funny part of these two words is that – awhile, an adverb, means “for a while.” On the other hand, “while”, a noun phrase, means “a period of time.” there is a very slight difference between these two words, and the difference is visible when constructing a sentence using them.
When you are using the two-word phrase “a while”, you must use it after a preposition. This form can also couple with the word back/ago.
For example –
- “I will wait for a while.”
- “She left Johnny a while ago.”
On the other hand, if you are using the word “awhile”, you should use it with the intention of modifying the verb of the sentence. Here are some examples to help you understand more about awhile vs a while.
- “I will play awhile.”
- “She will sleep awhile.”
- “They have danced awhile before going to bed.”
- “The plane flew awhile before crashing down.”
- “We rested awhile before heading out again.”
It will be clearer once you have grasped the meaning of both of the forms.
A while meaning
The word form a while consists of the indefinite article “a” and the noun “while.” if we break down the meaning of the noun, the meaning will be simpler. The word while means an unspecified time period. So, the complete meaning of the word a while stands for “a period of time.” this time period is usually unspecified.
Here is an example –
- “I watched the game for a while and then I was tired.”
- “They were rehearsing the play for a while.”
- “Bruno was jumping for a while then he stopped and went outside.”
When we write the article “a” and the noun “while” as one word, we get the adverb “awhile.” the basic meaning of this word is “spanning or during a period of time.” similar to other adverbs, this adverb is also used in the same way. The main purpose of this word is to modify the verb within a sentence.
Now, How do you use awhile in a sentence? Here is an example –
- “John waited awhile for the girl to come back.”
- “I let them fight awhile before interfering.”
- “She cried awhile before leaving the old house.”
When Should You Use Awhile Or A While In A Sentence?
We mostly use the word form “a while” while talking about any happenings. You can use the word form a while in the following scenarios –
- When you have not done something for a long time, you can say, “it has been a while.”
- If something takes a long time to happen or come to a conclusion, we say, “it has taken quite a while.”
- The use of the form a while can also take place when you are talking about something that is happening after some time. For example, you can say, “it rained after a while.”
In all the examples given here, you can see that none of the sentences uses “awhile.” If you are using awhile instead of “for a while”, then the word will modify the verb of the sentence. Below is a small display of how to use “awhile” in a sentence.
The use of “awhile” in a sentence makes the sentence more versatile. But, in terms of speaking, the form “a while” is much more useful and straightforward.
Awhile Vs A While: Which One Is Grammatically Correct?
Both of these words and word forms are used in sentences and are grammatically correct. But, many speakers and writers have difficulty using any of these words or phrases. There is no evidence of one of these two words and word forms having any regional preference. Most users use these at their own will, depending on their needs.
Even the Oxford English Dictionary confirms that the term “a while” stands for a time period. Whenever you use it, the word form has to follow a preposition. But you can also use the adverb awhile while modifying the verb of the sentence.
Many practical usages of the term “a while” are there. For instance, “after a while, in a while, within a while, for a while, a while back, a while ago, etc.” there are also some examples regarding the use of awhile in the sections above.
Awhile vs a while, the difference between the adverb and the noun phrase is easily understandable. Once you go through the sections above, it becomes more straightforward to understand the difference between two of these words and word forms.
For easier understanding, you should follow the examples given above. If you have any further queries, you can ask us questions in the comment below.