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    #1

    a while vs. awhile

    Webster states the following:

    Although considered a solecism by many commentators, awhile, like several other adverbs of time and place, is often used as the object of a preposition <for awhile there is a silence -- Lord Dunsany>.

    What'd you think? Should we only use "awhile" as an adverb in sentences such as "stay awhile"?


    Also, wouldn't "a while" - meaning a short time, not for a short time - be more appropriate in the following?

    "We've been awful on the road," said Rolston, whose team is 4-13-1 away from home. "We have to be better if we are going to compete for the Stanley Cup. You got to win games on the road."
    The nine road points rank 28th in the NHL - ahead of only Los Angeles and Phoenix - and Fernandez admitted the team is feeling the pressure to end a skid that has seen the Wild get just one point from their last nine road games.
    "It's been awhile so it's certainly affecting us," said Fernandez, who is 0-6 with a 4.38 goals-against average and .873 save percentage in six games on the road during Minnesota's slide. "If it's in the back of our minds I don't know. Obviously it is."
    Last edited by retro; 28-Dec-2006 at 03:29.

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    #2

    Re: a while vs. awhile

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    Webster states the following:

    Although considered a solecism by many commentators, awhile, like several other adverbs of time and place, is often used as the object of a preposition <for awhile there is a silence -- Lord Dunsany>.

    What'd you think? Should we only use "awhile" as an adverb in sentences such as "stay awhile"?


    Also, wouldn't "a while" - meaning a short time, not for a short time - be more appropriate in the following?

    "We've been awful on the road," said Rolston, whose team is 4-13-1 away from home. "We have to be better if we are going to compete for the Stanley Cup. You got to win games on the road."
    The nine road points rank 28th in the NHL - ahead of only Los Angeles and Phoenix - and Fernandez admitted the team is feeling the pressure to end a skid that has seen the Wild get just one point from their last nine road games.
    "It's been awhile so it's certainly affecting us," said Fernandez, who is 0-6 with a 4.38 goals-against average and .873 save percentage in six games on the road during Minnesota's slide. "If it's in the back of our minds I don't know. Obviously it is."
    These are sound pairs:
    already - all ready, always - all ways, anyway - any way, somebody - some body .
    They are written as one word or two words depending upon the meaning.

    I do agree with you it should have been written a while but I think in case of while - awhile the difference is not always clear as with other sound pairs; so the two can be easily confused. The other sound pairs sometimes create problems for native speakers as well:

    awhile means for a short time as you said.
    For a while means an indefinite period of time (But with the preposition for in BE it means for a short time like awhile)

    Perhaps we have to consider BE and AmE differences. In addition for a while (although it means an indefinite period of time) is more common in BE and might even replace awhile particularly in view of the role of English as a global language. There are indications that the two merge and awhile become outdated. (these are only my own observations based additionally on the fact that while is more flexible and can be used in different semantic situations such as contrasting ideas) Furthermore, you can use adjectives such as short, long, little in front of while:
    I am going to leave you for a short while.

    This is what OED has got to say:
    advb. phr. awhyle, 6 a-wyle. [Strictly two words, OE. ne hwle (for) a while, a space of time: usually written in comb. since 13th c.] (For) a short time, (for) a little.
    a1000 Beowulf 3528 N is nes mnes bl\d ne hwle. a1250 Owl & Night. 199 e ule one hwile hi biohte. a1300 Cursor M. 10135 Leue Šoure wantounship awhile. 1538 Starkey England ii. iii. 203 Aftur they haue byn brought up in lernyng A-wyle. 1725 De Foe Voy. round World (1840) 104 Sailing awhile to the Southward. 1810 Scott Lady of L. i. xx, Awhile she paused, no answer came.

    Improperly written together, when there is no unification of sense, and while is purely a n.
    1489 Caxton Faytes of A. i. xxiii. 72 It was doon but awhyle agoon. 1872 Yeats Growth Comm. 102 For awhile the facilities+enabled the Venetians, etc. 1882 Ouida Bimbi 44 After awhile they seemed to pacify each other.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 28-Dec-2006 at 13:09.

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    #3

    Re: a while vs. awhile

    Here is a list of such (sometimes) confusing sound pairs:

    Already………….all ready
    Altogether……….all together
    Always…………..all ways
    Anybody………...any body
    Anyway………….any way
    Awhile…………...a while
    Everyone………....every one
    Everybody……….every body
    However…………how ever
    Into………………in to
    Maybe……………my be
    Nobody………….no body
    Somebody……….some body
    Someone…………some one
    Whatever…………what ever
    Whoever………….who ever

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    #4

    Re: a while vs. awhile

    Awhile collocates with the following verbs:
    stay, take, wait
    We stood awhile watching the people.
    I waited awhile then I phoned.
    Live awhile
    glide for awhile on a topic

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