Awhile vs. While – The Difference Between

The difference between awhile and while

Two of the words in the English language that are very confusing are “awhile” and “while”. Both of these words refer to time, but the difference lies in the meaning of each one.

Awhile

Awhile is a word that refers to a short period of time. It is an adverb and is used to describe a verb in terms of time. An illustration of this can be seen in the following sentence:

Hang on a minute. I’ll just be awhile.

In this sentence you can infer that the word “awhile” means a minute or a short period of time.

While

While refers to a longer period of time, possibly an indefinite period of time. It is a noun in a sentence and in order to qualify it better you should use an adjective in front of the word.

Consider the way the adjective changes the meaning of while in each of the following sentences:

We may not see each other for a while.

We may not see each other for a long while.

Although you can infer that in both sentences “while” means quite some time, but the first sentence does not specify that. The second sentence does tell you that the length of time is very long.

The difference between awhile and while

Awhile and while are words that refer to a period of time. Awhile is a short time, but while is an indefinite or longer period of time.

To make matters more confusing, while can also be used as a conjunction to connect two independent clauses in a sentence.