Is there a difference between "awhile" and "a while"? If there is, what is it? I've been wondering this for awhile, but now I actually need the answer.
While the meanings are similar, they are different parts of speech and are not interchangeable. From Grammar Girl (emphasis mine):
...awhile and a while both describe a vague length of time, but you use the one-word version when you need an adverb and the two-word version when you need a noun.
To tell the difference, you can test your sentence with other nouns and adverbs. If you can replace a while with another article and noun such as an hour or a year, you know you want the two-word version. If you can replace awhile with another adverb such as quietly, longer, or briefly, you know you want the one-word version.
It's been awhile since I've heard that song.
It's been longer since I've heard that song.
Go play a while.
Go play an hour.
It's been a while since I've heard that song.
It's been a year since I've heard that song.
Go play awhile.
Go play quietly.
Go play for a while.
Go play for an hour.