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A while, two words, means “a time.” It’s an article (a) plus a noun (while). “Let’s think on that for a while.” When we’re using a while correctly, we can replace “a while” with another article+time combination. “Let’s think on that for a while.” OR “Let’s think on that for a week.”
Awhile, one word, means “for a time.” It’s an adverb, and its meaning already includes the preposition for. “Let’s think on that awhile.”
I know it sounds a little confusing since both a while and awhile deal with time; but if we use our quick tip to know when awhile is one word or two, we can eliminate making a mistake.
When in doubt, rewrite your sentence substituting awhile (one word) with the phrase “for a time.” If the resulting sentence reads for (for a time), then it’s a clear sign you need to use a while (two words.)
I’m Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief at Pelican Book Group. And that’s your One Minute Editor tip for today.