"Awhile" or "a while"? What's the difference?

A while vs Awhile

"A while" is a noun phrase in which "a" is an article and "while" functions as a noun meaning "a short period of time"; awhile is an adverb meaning literally "for a while", and it only works where it would allow replacement with that three-word phrase. Where for a while wouldn’t work in its place, it is probably not an adverb, so it should be two words: a while.

The article "a" before "while" is a sign that you're dealing with a noun, and
notice that you can replace "a while" with another article-noun combination such as "a year","a month", etc.

"Awhile" means "for a time" and it's an adverb. Notice in the following sentence that you could replace "awhile" with another adverb such as "quietly":

Grandpa waited awhile before turning himelf into a bat.
Grandpa waited quietly before turning himelf into a bat.

If you replace the adverb with a prepositional phrase, you need the noun again because an adverb can't be the object of the preposition.

Grandpa waited for a while before turning himelf into a bat.
Grandpa waited for a day before turning himelf into a bat.

Awhile can only be used with a verb, for example: he stood awhile in thought. It is quite commonly written by mistake instead of the noun a while, meaning `a period of time', so take care not to confuse the two parts of speech: I thought about that for a while (not awhile).

The grammar error is more of a written error than a spoken one. Awhile (one word) means for a period of time, as in Grandpa waited awhile before turning himelf into a bat. It already includes the word for in its meaning.

The test of which to use is to consider if "for a while" may be used in the sentence where we intend to place (or have placed) the word awhile – without changing anything else.

> "I'll wait here awhile" is correct because we could also say, "I'll wait here for a while."
> "I'll wait here for awhile" is not correct because we have actually used the word for twice, given that awhile = for a while: "I'll wait here for for a while."
> "I'll be there in awhile" is not correct because we would not say, "I'll be there IN FOR a while."
> "This may take awhile" is not correct because "This may take for a while" is not idiomatic English.
> "My mother is staying awhile" is correct because we could also say, "My mother is staying for a while."

The two-word noun phrase (a while) is probably more often the correct choice than is the one-word adverb (awhile). Certainly, most misuses of a while / awhile involve using awhile where a while is the appropriate construction.

The following sentences are examples of common errors:

Why hedge funds run by idiots can do well. For awhile.( For for a while??? )
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... or-awhile/

San Diego Mayor Filner Could Stay in Office for Awhile
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics ... ile/68061/

Some examples of the correct use of the noun phrase "a while" and the adverb "awhile"

But if they give him The Tonight Show back, maybe it ends up all right after a while. [Hollywood.com]

Starlings foray across the land and rest awhile on the sunlit twigs of ash. [Guardian]

After a while, Rawls came in to let another set of children have a chance. [Washington Post]

Crazy Horse watched this awhile and then rode down the river where some men were going out to repair the talking wires. [Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas]

We’ve been talking for a while when Baroness Campbell of Surbiton suddenly cuts to the chase, and leaves me speechless. [Telegraph]

Beyond the bar, soft white leather booths beckon you to sit, take off your coat and stay awhile. [In Arkansas]

We've been thinking about the evolving field of data driven journalism on the web for a while now here at guardian.co.uk. The basic principle is simple and has ...( the guardian

Here there is a video about "a while" and "awhile"

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/educat ... GRbWe.dpuf
http://snarkygrammarguide.blogspot.com. ... rence.html
http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/defini ... ish/awhile
http://www.grammarmudge.cityslide.com/a ... 3/8557.htm

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4 respostas
É certo dizer "STOP A WHILE"?

Estou perguntando porque eu visitei vários sites para estudar a música "Oh, Pretty Woman" de Roy Orbison, sendo que nos sites americanos uma frase da música estava "Pretty woman, STOP A WHILE", enquanto nos sites brasileiros estava "Pretty woman, STOP AWHILE.

Acredito que antes do A WHILE deveria haver um FOR. Mas isso indicaria que os americanos erraram na letra! (como assim!!!???) :?
Sim, acho que está correto. Você pode usar "a while" sem a preposição antes. O que não pode é awhile precedido por preposição, ok?
Veja: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/defin ... lish/while
Is correct to say "To be fluent in English takes awhile"?
Pelos meus conhecimentos não está correto.
Você quer dizer "Ser fluente em inglês leva um tempo", certo?
Então teria que usar o A WHILE, pois o AWHILE é abreviação de
FOR A WHILE e repare que não se diz "Ser fluente em inglês leva
POR um tempo".