Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
awhile or a while, Business writing, CIO, common grammar errors, exploits, grammar, Quiz, spelling
Which is correct?
Ransomware hasn’t been in the news for _______ but it seems to be making a comeback.
a. a while
A while is an unspecified period of time; awhile means for a while and is usually combined with an action. For example:
When I learned I was the victim of a data kidnapping exploit, I just sat and banged my head on the keyboard awhile.
Or I could say:
When I learned I was the victim of a data kidnapping exploit, it was a while before I stopped banging my head against the keyboard.
Here’s a good explanation of awhile vs. a while and some more examples of use from The Grumpy Grammarian:
The test of which to use is to consider whether “for a while” may be used in the sentence where we intend to place (or have placed) the word awhile – without changing anything else.
> “I’ll wait here awhile” is correct because we could also say, “I’ll wait here for a while.”
> “I’ll wait here for awhile” is not correct because we have actually used the word for twice, given that awhile = for a while: “I’ll wait here for for a while.”
> “I’ll be there in awhile” is not correct because we would not say, “I’ll be there IN FOR a while.”
> “This may take awhile” is not correct because “This may take for a while” is not idiomatic English.
> “My mother is staying awhile” is correct because we could also say, “My mother is staying for a while.”
The two-word noun phrase (a while) is probably more often the correct choice than is the one-word adverb (awhile). Certainly, most misuses of a while / awhile involve using awhile where a while is the appropriate construction.
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