Speaking of "a while," that happens to be the subject of today's post.
A While vs. Awhile
A While is a noun. It's a period of time.
Awhile is an adverb, and it means "for a while."
There are a couple of ways to test which one we need.
You can replace "awhile/a while" with an adverb and see if it works. If it works, you need the adverb, "awhile." If it doesn't work, you need the noun, "a while."
1. Lie down awhile.
This is correct. We could use another adverb here. We could say: "Lie down quietly." And it makes sense, so we know we need to use the adverb awhile.
2. I'm going out for a while.
This is correct. We could not use an adverb here. We couldn't say "I'm going out for a quietly."
Remember: An adverb (words like awhile, quietly, happily, peacefully) can never be the object of a preposition (words like with, for, on, under). So you can never, ever say "for awhile." If you have the word for in there, you have to use the noun: for a while.
This is another way to figure out whether to use "a while" or "awhile."
"Awhile" already has "for" in its meaning. You can try to put "for a while" in a sentence. If you can use "for a while" then you can use the word "awhile." If it doesn't make sense, you need "a while."
1. I'll be awhile.
This is incorrect, because if we say "I'll be for a while" it doesn't make sense. You need the noun: I'll be a while. (This is also where we could substitute another adverb and see that it would not make sense: "I'll be happily.")
2. I'll be over there awhile.
This is correct, because if we say "I'll be over there for a while" it makes sense. (This is also where we could substitute another adverb and see that it would make sense: "I'll be over there happily.") This means we could also reword the sentence to use the noun if we wanted to: I'll be over there for a while.
Any questions? Thoughts? Have I completely confused you?