Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Bang for Your Buck

Snap, crackle and pop

Copier, scanner and printer

Tall, dark and handsome

If you like these three-in-one deals, have I got a word for you:


Awhile is actually these three words: for a while.

So, we can either write:

I listened to my Rice Krispies speak for a while before eating them.

Or use the more economical version:

I listened to my Rice Krispies speak awhile before eating them.

But we can’t write:

I listened to my Rice Krispies speak for awhile before eating them.

If we did, we would actually be saying:

I listened to my Rice Krispies speak for for a while before eating them.

We also can’t use awhile when we don’t mean for a while. For example, this is wrong:

It’s taking quite awhile to scan this image of tall, dark and handsome.

Because it doesn’t make sense to say:

It’s taking quite for a while to scan this image of tall, dark and handsome.

So we would have to write:

It’s taking quite a while to scan this image of tall, dark and handsome.

But, when it is scanned, I am going to print it out, make several copies of it, pin the copies all over my wall and stare at them awhile. And I mean AWHILE.

The Grammar Curmedgeon. "Awhile/A while."


Christopher said...

You're seriously the only person I've ever come across that can make me enjoy learning grammar. I've always liked writing but my work would always come back covered in red and so I find a bit of a refresher as an adult quite refreshing.

The Shanner of Attention said...

I seriously think I don't have this rule down. And now I'm going to come here and check this post every time awhile/a while/for a while comes up in my writing.

Or I'll do what I normally do when I'm uncertain - - just not use that series of words anymore.


N. R. Williams said...

It's funny how our slang for once perfect shortened words can effect our writing and even our speaking. Nice post and nice to meet you. Thank you for your comment on Clarissa's blog about my post. You left your email so you are in my contest.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Mary Aalgaard said...

I'm going to need to think about this awhile. I'm sure I've been doing it wrong.

Hart Johnson said...

HA! Something I totally didn't know! I love it! I've never really used 'awhile' because i wasn't sure how... it might just make it's way into my works now!

Meg O. said...

Okay, I'm going to bookmark this post so I don't forget. Thank you, Captain!

Theresa Milstein said...

This one always got me. Thank you! I'm going to ponder this one awhile.

MartyrMom said...

I don't think I've ever written this but I know I say "once in a while." Like "once in a while I get bored." Is that weird? Not that I get bored, but that I don't write a while/awhile??? Must the the North Carolinian in me??

Kelly said...

You must be a fun teacher!
Good lesson. I'm not sure if I've written for a while before, but I'll be sure not to now!

WritingNut said...

Thank you so much! I'm going to have to check for this one in my MS!

Talli Roland said...

Thank GOD you wrote about this today! This little word has been driving me MENTAL.

Amie Kaufman said...

Ha, love it! I already stared at him awhile, but if he was so much trouble to scan, perhaps he merits extra attention--as does this little word!

Boonie S said...

I'm more the snap crackle and pop than the tall dark and handsome type, which is why you're unlikely to see me awhile.....

Have a nice day, Boonie