Origin of awhileMiddle English from Old English ane hwile, a while
Taking a nap is an example of resting awhile.
Usage Note: The adverb awhile and the noun phrase a while can lead to confusion because they sound the same and the noun phrase can function like an adverb. Noun phrases denoting time periods can often be used as adverbs, as one day in We'll move to Seattle one day. The same is true for a while. Thus Let's stop and rest a while is correct, since a while is here equivalent to “one day” in the previous phrase. Similarly, Let's stop and rest awhile is correct, where awhile functions as an adverb with a similar function to phrases like for an hour. • Care should be taken with prepositional phrases. Only a while can follow a preposition in a prepositional phrase, since only noun phrases can be the objects of prepositions. Thus I'll stay for a while is acceptable, but not I'll stay for awhile. (Note that if the preposition is dropped, both I'll stay a while and I'll stay awhile are acceptable, since the noun phrase a while can be used adverbially.)
- For some time; for a short time.
- Sit with me awhile.
Since awhile means “for a while”, it is never used with a preceding preposition, as one is already included. When preceded by a preposition, the correct form is “a while”, as two words, as in once in a while. Compare “sit with me awhile” and “sit with me for a while”.
- Maybe you should hold off awhile until your shoulder gets better.
- "I might be gone awhile, Talia," she said.
- At last they reached a great forest, and, being quite tired, they decided to rest awhile and look for nuts before going any further.
- Awhile later, someone's voice broke her concentration.
- Looking at his cold face, as he sat like a stern schoolmaster who was prepared to wait awhile for an answer, Pierre felt that every instant of delay might cost him his life; but he did not know what to say.