The EFC Writer – AWHILE

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: STOP SMASHING WORDS TOGETHER!

 
I won’t discuss “a lot.”  I won’t. You know better than to smash those two words together. But let’s talk about “awhile” and “a while,” OK?

Generally, if you can add the word “for” in front of “awhile,” you’re cool smashing everything together.  The great news is that if you CAN do that, you can probably use the two-word version without changing the meaning of your sentence. Isn’t that great? Look:

  • I’m going to nap (for) awhile.
  • I’m going to nap a while.

But guys, if the word “for” doesn’t fit in your sentence you need to hit the space bar. Really. Look at the following sentence. See how you can’t fit “for” in there?  It’s a pretty neat trick, and it nearly always works.

  • My toddler started whining again after a while. 

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

 
COMPOUND NOUNS are single words made from two other words smashed together. They usually have a completely different meaning than their single word counterparts, but there are exceptions (like “anytime” vs “any time” and the whole “awhile” thing I just did).
 

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

 
awhile: adverb \ə-ˈhwī(-ə)l, ə-ˈwī(-ə)l\

: for a while : for a short time

Full Definition of AWHILE

:  for a while

 

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 Dunsany>.
 
Examples of AWHILE

  1. I’m going to sit and rest awhile.
  2. The rumor had been around awhile.

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

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Comments

  1. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections says:

    Thanks for this! English is not my first language and I’ve been seeing “awhile” so often lately, it was starting to confuse me.

    Here’s a funny link on “alot”: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.be/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html

  2. Great post! And wonderful straight forward examples.

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

  3. Thanks, Terri! Glad you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more from this series in the new year!

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