Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • *Singing* Hi. James from EngVid. I'm going to take off my bag and my hat, I'm going to stay awhile. I've been

  • doing these videos for a while now, and I've got a question for you. I said, "I'm going

  • to stay awhile," -- "stay awhile", and then, "I've been doing them for a while." Do you

  • know the difference between "awhile" and "a while"? Probably not, because they sound the same, right?

  • This is one of those mistakes people make in English when they write, that you

  • really can't see when they speak. Today's lesson: "A while" and "awhile". Love it, don't

  • you? Anyway, welcome to the EngVid video. We have been doing this for a while. When

  • I said, "for a while", I said something distinct. 'Distinct' means special or unique. What it

  • was, was "a while". I said the article, then this word. "While" by itself means time; it

  • just means time, that's it. "A while", "a" usually comes before a noun, so it means "a

  • time", is what we're saying. This is why "a while", when written like this, means it's a noun.

  • Note the article; the article tells us it's a noun that follows.

  • So it talks about a length or period of time that can be specified. When I say specified,

  • you can give it 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day, but you don't. You're just saying, for instance,

  • "I slept for a while." I'm saying, I don't know, maybe 20 minutes, maybe an hour; it's

  • not important. But I could say, "I slept for 3 hours," and be very specific. We're using

  • the 'for' here to tell you 'for this amount of time', 'for' this noun. Because time is a

  • noun; it's a thing, an actual thing. I can say to you, as I said, "I slept for a while", or

  • "I slept for 3 hours", or I can also say "This will take a while." 'Take' this (a while). "This will

  • take a month." See how we can just slip in that specified period of time? "A while",

  • month; "a while", hours.

  • If this is so obvious and easy, why do we even have the other one? It just doesn't make

  • any sense. Notice that this is for a noun, so we can use it as a noun; an actual period

  • of time in a sentence. But if we want to actually modify a verb, use it in an adverb way to

  • demonstrate the passage of time, then we use another one, 'awhile'. 'Awhile' is an adverb,

  • funny enough. You just take the article, put it with the period of time, smash it together,

  • and suddenly it becomes an adverb. It's descriptive, and it means 'a period of time'. It actually

  • means the same thing, because it means 'for a time'. Same here; just to modify the verb,

  • just one step closer to the verb.

  • Here's an example for you: "My mother is staying awhile." 'Awhile' is actually modifying this

  • verb to tell us the period of time. It's not a noun here; it's modifying how she's staying.

  • When we do adverbs, it's how something is, how fast... it describes that verb. It's describing

  • the verb here; unlike saying it's a noun. How do we translate that? Let's look: "My

  • mother is staying awhile." If we break it down, remember what I told you? 'Awhile' is

  • the same as 'for a while'. We can say, "My mother is staying for a while." Wow. Then

  • we can go back the extra step and go, "My mother is staying for another month." 'For

  • another month' is describing the length of the stay. "For a while" is describing it,

  • but we're using this as a noun here, and here we're just modifying the verb. Simple enough.

  • 'Awhile' is 'a while' with 'for' built right in it.

  • Simple lesson, easy lesson, but one people make a mistake on time and time again. Many

  • Canadians make a mistake with this, because when we say it -- and remember, we speak more

  • than we read and write -- we just make the assumption that 'awhile' is the same. You

  • won't make that mistake. You know why you won't make that mistake? Because you now know

  • that they're the same thing, except 'awhile' has 'for' built right inside, right? Cool.

  • But in case you've got to do this lesson again, you should go for this very, very special

  • place. Special, special! You should go to . . . hold on; I'm not going to tell you.

  • Mr. E, my favorite little worm, making an appearance; I don't know... he's been late of late. He's going

  • to tell you to go to www.eng -- as in English -- vid -- as in video -- .com. Go to to get this and other lessons:

  • 'all right', 'a lot'... other mistakes that people commonly make, that you are now going

  • to master and not make that mistake. Have a good one.

  • Learn English for free

*Singing* Hi. James from EngVid. I'm going to take off my bag and my hat, I'm going to stay awhile. I've been

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

A2 awhile noun slept engvid staying adverb


  • 1955 270
    Vincent Chang posted on 2013/10/20
Video vocabulary