One Minute Editor: One Word or Two? Let's think on that Awhile

Knowing when to use awhile or "a while" is sometimes confusing. Here’s a quick tip on how to know when awhile is one word or two: Never write “for for a time.” Let me explain.

A while, two words, means “a time.” It’s an article (a) plus a noun (while). “Let’s think on that for a while.” When we’re using a while correctly, we can replace “a while” with another article+time combination. “Let’s think on that for a while.” OR “Let’s think on that for a week.”

Awhile, one word, means “for a time.” It’s an adverb, and its meaning already includes the preposition for. “Let’s think on that awhile.”

I know it sounds a little confusing since both a while and awhile deal with time; but if we use our quick tip to know when awhile is one word or two, we can eliminate making a mistake.

When in doubt, rewrite your sentence substituting awhile (one word) with the phrase “for a time.” If the resulting sentence reads for (for a time), then it’s a clear sign you need to use a while (two words.)

“Let’s think on that for awhile” means 
“Let’s think on that for for a time” (WRONG).

“Let’s think on that awhile” means
“Let’s think on that for a time” (CORRECT).

I'm Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief at Pelican Book Group. And that's your One Minute Editor tip for today.


Post a Comment