What are the difference between a while and awhile?
Few word pairs capture theidiosyncrasies (“peculiar characteristics”) of the English language like a whileandawhile do. Both of these terms are expressions of time, but one is written with a space while the other is one word.
These two terms represent different parts of speech. The two-word expressiona whileis a noun phrase, consisting of the articleaand the nounwhile (which means “a period or interval of time”).
The one-wordawhileis an adverb that means “for a short time or period.” Although these definitions are similar (and although the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably), there are a few simple rules that are helpful in keeping them straight.