Stay Awhile and I’ll Explain

I’m going to speak to you a (short) while about when to use a while and awhile. It may seem like no big deal, and really, is there a distinction? I see writers all the time using awhile incorrectly. Yes, grammar and usage is about the little things, like dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. Sorry. If this seems too minuscule to bother with, read another post. But I would encourage you to take advantage of these little “lessons” to become a better writer. So stay awhile and learn something.

The word awhile is an adverb. That means it modifies a verb. It means “for a while” or “for a time” so you’d be redundant if you said, “I’d like you to stay for awhile” (which means “stay for for a time”). The key to watch for is the word for. You either stay for a while ( a period of time) or you stay awhile (for a time).

The word while alone can mean other things, like trouble: “It’s worth your while.”

Was this lesson worth your while? See, that wasn’t so painful, was it?

3 Responses to “Stay Awhile and I’ll Explain”

  1. Curtis September 6, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    Elusive distinction; elegant explanation. This one goes on a sticky on my monitor — and a manuscript search-and-replace.

  2. Christine Campbell September 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    I love these wee lessons of yours, CS. They’re always great wee reminders. Thank you.

  3. Lee Roman September 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I’ve been meaning to write you for a while to thank you for your daily lessons. I just love them and find them so helpful.

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