WORD! Awhile or A While? Simple Explanation.

Pierre Metivier

For those of you who blog or need to create content in some form for work … we hope you can relate to our enthusiasm when we get something correct! Last week, after documenting a trip to Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken New Jersey, Mimi wrote a blog on the experience—complete with details and links to photos. Immediately she got a not-so-gentle email from one of her readers stating “Awhile is one word… not two!

Well, the reader was correct that awhile is one word –  just not in this situation, because a while (two words) is also correct. Here is the blurb..

I’m not saying the goods from Carlo’s Bake Shop aren’t delicious – I didn’t try anything, so I can’t judge. I just haven’t been in a bakery for a while that didn’t at least try to have some type of health messaging to the customers—as in “our products contain no-trans fat,” or “we only use fresh, local and organic ingredients” etc.

We went to Daily Writing Tips for a clear explanation.

A while is a noun meaning “a length of time”

    • “I slept for a while.”
      – (compare with “I slept for a bit” and “I slept for three hours”)

“I was away from my desk for a while.”
– (compare with “I was away from my desk for two minutes”)

Awhile is an adverb, meaning “for a time,” or literally, “for a while”.

  • “I slept awhile before dinner.”
    (compare with “I slept deeply before dinner” and “I slept badly before dinner”.)

As you can see, the words can be used almost interchangeably in some cases – but a while needs to be accompanied by a preposition, such as “for” (“I slept for a while”) or “ago” (“I left work a while ago”). Awhile always means “for a while”.


  1. Nancy Longo says:

    Very Interesting…thank you for this…and love the Daily Writing Tips site…good thing to pass along…many people need it…myself included! You guys are great!

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