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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Is the spelling “awhile” or "a while"?

Both the spelling ‘awhile” and “a while” are correct. Both mean a period of time. The spelling to use depends on usage. The spelling “awhile” is for an adverb and “a while” for a noun.

An adverb needs a verb, that is a doing word.

Can we stay awhile?

Stay is the verb and awhile is the adverb.

Can we stay for a while?

While is a noun as a period of time, such as an hour or a day.

If you’re struggling with which one to use, a technique that can be useful is substitute a noun such as “day”. The noun “hour” isn’t good as then you’d need to use the word “an”.

Can we stay day.

Makes no sense, so “awhile” is correct.

Can we stay for a day.

Makes sense, so “a while” is correct.

Often in situations like this where usage can be confusing, it may be useful to consider rewriting the sentence, if that makes your life easier and helps your reader.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

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