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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > Literary Merit > 'a while' vs 'awhile'
'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76787] Mon, 27 April 2020 16:19 Go to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Is the use of 'awhile' rather than discriminating between 'a while' and 'awhile' a US thing?

"Rest here for a while" means "Rest here for a [parcel of time which is undefined, but usually short]"

"Rest awhile" has a very similar meaning, and I'm finding it hard to distinguish between the two. Yet they are different, certainly in the UK.

They are different parts of speech, though. In this case 'while' taking the indefinite article, is a noun, whereas 'awhile' is an adverb.

[Updated on: Tue, 28 April 2020 14:36]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76798 is a reply to message #76787] Tue, 28 April 2020 13:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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Yes, contracting "a while" into "awhile" is a typical Americanism, in that it corresponds closer to the spoken usage, as well as being just slightly simpler to write. As with most languages, the longer a change is used in 'the vulgate', eventually it becomes standard (this is how Latin became Italian...). Another example in American English is the spelling of the word "through", which is now spelled "thru" about 50% of the time. Likewise, "gauge" has now become "gage", "floutist" is now "flutist", etc. Time marches forward, and language changes.



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76799 is a reply to message #76798] Tue, 28 April 2020 14:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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' "floutist" is now "flutist"'
As an elderly English English speaker, I am quite unfamiliar with 'floutist'. I would take it to mean some who bends the rules.
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76800 is a reply to message #76799] Tue, 28 April 2020 14:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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you may be flauting your knowledge of English!



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76801 is a reply to message #76798] Tue, 28 April 2020 14:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"American_Alex wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 14:50"
Yes, contracting "a while" into "awhile" is a typical Americanism, in that it corresponds closer to the spoken usage, as well as being just slightly simpler to write. As with most languages, the longer a change is used in 'the vulgate', eventually it becomes standard (this is how Latin became Italian...). Another example in American English is the spelling of the word "through", which is now spelled "thru" about 50% of the time. Likewise, "gauge" has now become "gage", "floutist" is now "flutist", etc. Time marches forward, and language changes.

--

'Anæsthetist' seems to have contracted into 'anesthesiologist' in the march of some sort of progress and is harder to say and spell. But not in the UK, where we favour the shorter word.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76803 is a reply to message #76801] Tue, 28 April 2020 20:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy   United States

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"timmy wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 07:39"

"American_Alex wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 14:50"
Yes, contracting "a while" into "awhile" is a typical Americanism, in that it corresponds closer to the spoken usage, as well as being just slightly simpler to write. As with most languages, the longer a change is used in 'the vulgate', eventually it becomes standard (this is how Latin became Italian...). Another example in American English is the spelling of the word "through", which is now spelled "thru" about 50% of the time. Likewise, "gauge" has now become "gage", "floutist" is now "flutist", etc. Time marches forward, and language changes.

--

'Anæsthetist' seems to have contracted into 'anesthesiologist' in the march of some sort of progress and is harder to say and spell. But not in the UK, where we favour the shorter word.

--
And of course Timmy inadvertently highlights another language morph by using the archaic spelling of favor as "favour" which is actually the longer word... 🤣

[Updated on: Tue, 28 April 2020 20:21]




“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76804 is a reply to message #76803] Tue, 28 April 2020 21:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I recall with pleasure when I was UK product manager for word processing systems in the 1980s and was able to release the British English dictionary to the UK market after a very long wait for our US masters to unerstand the need for internationalisation of products. I rememebr vividly the laugh when I said that we could now validate 'color' spelled with a 'u' - 'C U L O R'

There is a difference between an archaic spelling and a nationally correct spelling.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76805 is a reply to message #76803] Tue, 28 April 2020 21:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
cm is currently offline  cm   United Kingdom

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'Favour' is English; 'favor' is American. Favour is not archaic, merely correct for users of British English.
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76806 is a reply to message #76805] Wed, 29 April 2020 10:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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Favour should become archaic.
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76807 is a reply to message #76806] Wed, 29 April 2020 11:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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And Anesthesiologist should be consigned to the bin



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76808 is a reply to message #76806] Wed, 29 April 2020 12:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
cm is currently offline  cm   United Kingdom

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I should have thought that those of us who are trying very hard to promote acceptance of diversity where sexuality is concerned might adopt the same approach to language. Let's celebrate our different spellings and value them...rather than seeking homogenised uniformity. But perhaps that's the American way. It was certainly a single American - Noah Webster - who was responsible for creating most of the Americanised versions of catalog, plow and so on -although it is interesting that his suggestion of dropping the 'ue' in the word 'tongue', and replacing the 'o' with a 'u' to give 'tung' didn't stick.
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76815 is a reply to message #76805] Wed, 29 April 2020 20:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy   United States

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"cm wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 14:28"
'Favour' is English; 'favor' is American. Favour is not archaic, merely correct for users of British English.


--It was humor, People! Jeeezuss!!! LOL



“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76817 is a reply to message #76787] Thu, 30 April 2020 08:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Talo Segura is currently offline  Talo Segura   France

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Changes in spelling reflect changes in pronunciation.

Take the word colour/color. A large Part of the English language is French.

Couleur    - pronounced   cooler (French)
Colour      - pronounced   cull ler  or cull la (British)
Color (American) is simply a spelling of the spoken word, although it could be spelt culla, but that seems a little too phoenetic. 

One might say that language evolves in part due to lazy speech. The French open their mouths and articulate, the British are tight lipped, and the Americans either drawl or are just plain lazy and don't give a damn!
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76819 is a reply to message #76817] Thu, 30 April 2020 09:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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"the British are tight lipped"

No -they merely have a stiff upper lip.
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76821 is a reply to message #76801] Thu, 30 April 2020 12:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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"timmy wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 10:39"

"American_Alex wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 14:50"
Yes, contracting "a while" into "awhile" is a typical Americanism, in that it corresponds closer to the spoken usage, as well as being just slightly simpler to write. As with most languages, the longer a change is used in 'the vulgate', eventually it becomes standard (this is how Latin became Italian...). Another example in American English is the spelling of the word "through", which is now spelled "thru" about 50% of the time. Likewise, "gauge" has now become "gage", "floutist" is now "flutist", etc. Time marches forward, and language changes.

--

'Anæsthetist' seems to have contracted into 'anesthesiologist' in the march of some sort of progress and is harder to say and spell. But not in the UK, where we favour the shorter word.

--Actually, there is a difference between an Anesthetist (Am. spelling) and an Anesthstegiolist; The former is any person who is professionally trained to administer anestesia, whereas the latter is a professional specialty for an MD.



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76822 is a reply to message #76821] Thu, 30 April 2020 15:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"American_Alex wrote on Thu, 30 April 2020 13:49"

"timmy wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 10:39"

"American_Alex wrote on Tue, 28 April 2020 14:50"
Yes, contracting "a while" into "awhile" is a typical Americanism, in that it corresponds closer to the spoken usage, as well as being just slightly simpler to write. As with most languages, the longer a change is used in 'the vulgate', eventually it becomes standard (this is how Latin became Italian...). Another example in American English is the spelling of the word "through", which is now spelled "thru" about 50% of the time. Likewise, "gauge" has now become "gage", "floutist" is now "flutist", etc. Time marches forward, and language changes.

--

'Anæsthetist' seems to have contracted into 'anesthesiologist' in the march of some sort of progress and is harder to say and spell. But not in the UK, where we favour the shorter word.

--Actually, there is a difference between an Anesthetist (Am. spelling) and an Anesthstegiolist; The former is any person who is professionally trained to administer anestesia, whereas the latter is a professional specialty for an MD.

--
Not in the real world.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76824 is a reply to message #76822] Thu, 30 April 2020 18:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Bensiamin is currently offline  Bensiamin   United States

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In the US, to American Alex's observation, there is in fact a professional and structural difference. There are both "anesthetists" and "anesthesiologists."

The vast majority of anesthetists are Registered Nurses who have taken additional training in the administration of anesthesia and are titled Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). Anesthesiologists are Medical Doctors who have graduated from medical school and they pursued specialty training (Board Certified) in administering anesthesia. CRNAs work under the supervision of a Board Certified Anesthesiologist.

The practical difference? Not very much, except the latter make much more money than for former in the American capitalistic health system!

[Updated on: Thu, 30 April 2020 21:06]




Bensiamin
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76837 is a reply to message #76824] Mon, 04 May 2020 20:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy   United States

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While we're on the topic of "a while" vs "awhile," there are a few others that drive me nuts. Always have going all the way back to grammar school. Here are a couple of them:
  • capitol vs capital (and withing that, upper case vs lower case of the same words)
  • affect vs effect

There's something about those sets of words that I draw a blank on every damn time, no matter that I've studied it out countless times over the years. I've gotten to the place where I will try to rewrite a sentence or paragraph in order to avoid using the words at all! LOL

[Updated on: Mon, 04 May 2020 20:27]




“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76838 is a reply to message #76837] Mon, 04 May 2020 21:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I'd like to add 'anymore' vs 'any more' too



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76839 is a reply to message #76838] Tue, 05 May 2020 05:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Talo Segura is currently offline  Talo Segura   France

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"timmy wrote on Mon, 04 May 2020 23:29"
I'd like to add 'anymore' vs 'any more' too

--That's a good one!
An example of America leading language change, explained perfectly here: https://writingexplained.org/anymore-vs-any-more-difference 

But even in America it can be abused: 
  • The price of gasoline is outrageous anymore. [read: the price of gasoline is outrageous nowadays.]

Re: 'a while' vs 'awhile'  [message #76840 is a reply to message #76838] Tue, 05 May 2020 09:07 Go to previous message
ivor slipper is currently offline  ivor slipper   

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"timmy wrote on Mon, 04 May 2020 21:29"
I'd like to add 'anymore' vs 'any more' too

--

Now don't you start!!Very Happy

There was a major dispute on another site I used to write for where the site owner decided to ban this ghastly Americanisation of the English language. Quite why this one particular contraction should offend him so was never clear, but from then on if the word appeared in a submited story he would change it. He was finally prepared to accept that it was acceptable when used by US authors...
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