Welcome to twominenglish.com. Teaching you English through two-minute lessons.
In this lesson we will talk about the difference between the word ‘awhile’ and the phrase ‘a while’.
Faiga: Hello, everybody. Today we’ll talk about two similar ways to refer to periods of time: ‘awhile’ and ‘a while’. Did you notice that the pronunciation is the same?
Quentin:Yeah, it is! This is great! I always get confused when I have to choose which one to use.
Faiga: Not anymore, Quentin. The adverb ‘awhile’ refers to a short time. We never use a preposition, like for, before this word.
Quentin: Ok. So it’s appropriate to say that I’ll go to the mall and only stay awhile.
Faiga: Right. I let my son play awhile after lunch, before he does his homework.
Quentin: You’re a cool mom, Faiga. Does your son like to read? I like to read awhile before I go to bed at night.
Faiga: He does, too! Some people prefer to watch TV, but he’d rather read a good book.
Quentin: And what about ‘a while’?
Faiga: In this case, the article ‘a’ before the word ‘while’ shows us that ‘while’ is a noun; it means a period of time. In other words, I could substitute it for another noun, like ‘year’, for example. And I can use a preposition before ‘a while’, like for a while.
Quentin: I see. Yesterday my brother visited me and stayed for a while; or for a minute.
Faiga: That’s right. On the other hand, we can substitute ‘awhile’ for another adverb, like quietly, for example. I told my son to wait awhile before going outside, or I told him to wait quietly before going outside. The meanings are different, but the structure is the same.
Quentin: I think I got it! I won’t mix them up again. Let’s see some more examples.
Melissa: Hi, Joe. Did you get here a long time ago?
Joe: No, I got here a little while ago. Do you want to get a cup of coffee?
Melissa: Sure. But I can only stay awhile. I have a French class in about half an hour.
Joe: No problem. I can’t stay too long, either. We’ll just sit and talk awhile.
Melissa: Do you remember my aunt Matilda? She’s going to be in town for a while and wants to see you.
Joe: Oh, man!! Of course I remember aunt Matilda!! She’s a riot!
Joe: I had a great time. The last time I laughed so much was a while ago. Remember when we went to your aunt’s beach house?
Melissa: Of course I do! We would always stay awhile at her house before Christmas.
Joe: Good times. I wish I were a kid again…it would be nice to spend a while just laughing and playing…