The Editor’s Help Desk – A While or Awhile?


Hello and welcome to “The Editor’s Help Desk.” I am Joan Alley, owner and chief editor at Prism Book Group, and beginning today, I am going to be sharing some editing tips for authors, touching on many of the common mistakes I see on a day-to-day basis.

I’m going to start with a mistake I recently saw even Oprah make on her Facebook.

Is it awhile, or a while?

Most automatically assume awhile. However, not necessarily. Proper use depends on the context.

A while is a noun, meaning “a length of time.”

Awhile is an adverb, which defined, means “for a while” or “for a time.”

For example: I’m going to sit awhile.

Not: I’m going to sit for awhile.

Think of it like this. Essentially, you are repeating “for” twice, the equivalent of writing: I’m going to sit for for a while.

When using this, ask yourself, are you going to write it out—for a while—or use the shortened adverb, awhile.

Let’s make your manuscript shine! See you for the next “The Editor’s Help Desk!”



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