Monday, 28 May 2012

The Matter of A While.

'Awhile’ is an adverb, but I’ve noticed it’s becoming common to confuse it with the article and noun (a while.) Hence:

I rested awhile. Fine.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you. Irksome.

I’m wondering whether commonality of usage in American English has reached a point where it’s become ‘officially’ acceptable, and I’d be interested to know what American schools teach on the matter.

And whether or not it matters is, I suppose, a matter of opinion.


andrea kiss said...

I've always thought it was

I rested a while and Its been a while since i've seen you.

Another word that people use so often that it has become acceptable is irregardless. I didn't even get a red line under the word typed here.

I'm not trying to keep going with the subject of word verifications, but my first word here is Medusa and i just have to mention it.

JJ Beazley said...

I checked it with the OED to see whether I've always used it 'correctly.' Seems I have. The OED says that 'awhile' is strictly an adverb, and should be 'a while' when used any other way, so the following would be correct:

Stay awhile; rest awhile' I rested awhile.


I rested for a while; I haven't seen you for a while.

But that's accepted UK idiom. It might be different in America, and I've noticed that Americans almost invariably use 'awhile' in all forms.

My favourite double negative is 'anti-fungicide.'

andrea kiss said...

I wasn't questioning you, i was saying that i'd had it wrong all these years and didn't know. I guess i should have made that more clear.

Anti-fungicide is funny! I've never heard that before. I'm a bit slow... i had to think about it for a bit before getting it, lol.

JJ Beazley said...

I didn't think you were questioning me. I was just elaborating.