EN: in a while / for a while


Senior Member
French (France)
Si je peux me permettre de rebondir un peu off-topic sur "I haven't spoken to her for a while" : si je dis "I haven't spoken to her in a while", is it AE only? And it is casual or common speak?

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  • miss.meri91

    Senior Member
    English - South Africa
    Well, it's definitely not just AE, seeing as I would use both here in South Africa. As far as I know, 'in a while' and 'for a while' depend more on context than on location.
    In the context you provided, it means the same thing, but if you look at it like this:

    1) I'll be there for a while - means you'll be there (at whichever place) for a certain duration of time, whereas
    2) I'll be there in a while - means you'll be there (at whichever place) after a certain duration of time.

    I don't know if that helps much, but there it is anyway!


    New Member
    English - Canada
    Pour moi (canadien), "in a while" sonne plus naturel, et personellement c'est ça que je dirais, mais tous les deux me semblent correctes. Ils sont tous les deux plus ou moins familiers : je pense que dans un contexte vraiment soutenu on dirait plutôt "I have not [...] for some time".


    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Same here, Gitaro. I think learning English in a French high school, a lot of emphasis was put on the construction with "for" because it was so different from the French way of saying things, "Je travaille depuis cinq ans", present simple, VS "I have been working for five years", present perfect progressive. But living in Canada and watching American TV, I don't recall ever hearing "for a while" in that sense... Maybe I'm just not paying attention. Anyway, I was wondering it this was a regional thing, or if the language had evolved since my high school days, or what! ;-)
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    Senior Member
    The expression: 'I haven't seen you in a while' as synonymous with: 'I haven't seen you for a while' is common in BE as well (both are equally common). In future time though, only the expression 'in a while' is possible (eg 'I'll see you in a while') with the idea of 'after a while'.
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