The conundrum? Whether to use "awhile" or "a while." And they really are two different beasts.
The oracle at DailyWritingTips.com explains beautifully:
A while is a noun meaning “a length of time”
•“I slept for a while.”
- (compare with “I slept for a bit” and “I slept for three hours”)
“I was away from my desk for a while.”
- (compare with “I was away from my desk for two minutes”)
Awhile is an adverb, meaning “for a time,” or literally, “for a while”.
•“I slept awhile before dinner.”
(compare with “I slept deeply before dinner” and “I slept badly before dinner”.)
As you can see, the words can be used almost interchangeably in some cases – but a while needs to be accompanied by a preposition, such as “for” (“I slept for a while”) or “ago” (“I left work a while ago”). Awhile always means “for a while”.
Dig? So let's practice; which are correct?
A. I had to stop studying awhile because my eyes were crossing.
B. Let's walk for a while and see where we end up.
C. Ugh, that Tobasco sauce had me worried there for awhile.
D. I'd love to spend a while soaking up your awesome presence.
If you chose A & B you are a winner!!! There's no prize, but you are definitely a WINNER! Soak that up for awhile, er. . . a while. :-)