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