Difference between awhile and while
Awhile vs while:
‘Awhile’ and ‘while’ are two words that are used very frequently in the English language and yet, not everybody is aware of the many differences that they carry. As a result of this ignorance regarding the two words, ‘awhile’ and ‘while’ are at times very wrongly used as synonyms. However, differences need to be recognized in order to understand how ‘awhile’ and ‘while’ can be used correctly in the appropriate contexts and therefore, hopefully, this article shall shed some insight upon these two words which have been confused with each other time and time again.
‘Awhile’ is an adverb which stands for the meaning “for a time,” which indicates a short amount of time. ‘Awhile’ is used with the aim of describing a verb and is almost always used after a verb. Observing the following examples would provide a clear understanding about how these two words can be used.
She slept awhile till the cake baked.
I read awhile waiting for my niece to arrive home from school.
Could you wait awhile?
In all the three sentences above, ‘awhile’ has been used after a verb, thereby qualifying it as an adverb.
‘While’ is a noun which carries the meaning “a period of time” and an adjective is almost always used before this noun. The time period that this word implies is finite and the article “a” is almost always used before ‘while’ when using it in a sentence. Observe the following examples.
I may be gone for a while. You better get some sleep.
She slept for a little while until she was called for dinner.
In the first sentence, ‘while’ has been used in such a way that it indicates an infinite period of time. In the second sentence, it is implied that the time period mentioned was short and yet, it does not specifically state the amount of time.
What is the difference between while and awhile?
‘While’ and ‘awhile’ are two words that are mistakenly used in place of one another, evidently as a result of their similarity in meaning and pronunciation. Although both these words carry similar meanings, ‘awhile’ stands to indicate a short period of time whereas ‘while’ indicates an infinite amount of time unless an adjective has been introduced before it. Observe the following examples.
I’ve been away for a while. Both my children have grown up during that time.
I slept awhile till the kettle boiled.
You’ll only have to wait for a little while. Tie your shoe laces till I come back.
In the first sentence ‘while’ has been used in such a way that it indicates a long time. However, it does not indicate a definite amount of time that has passed. In the second sentence, ‘awhile’ stands to indicate a short period of time. In the third sentence, the time period indicated is indeed short as the adjective “little” has been added before it. However, it does not specify the time period exactly either.
When employing ‘awhile’ one needs not use any prepositions before it. And yet, while using ‘while’, a preposition needs to be used before the word in order for it to make sense. Observing the above sentences will give you a clear cut idea of how this has been implemented. In both the first and the third sentences, the preposition “for’ has been utilized whereas no such preposition has been used in the second sentence.