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Space or no space? Sometimes it makes all the difference…

You know those green squiggly lines in your Word document that let you know when you've messed up your grammar? A lot of times, it's completely intentional. (Fragments are cool, leave ‘em alone!) Other times, you may be left wondering why the grammar check says to separate the words you’ve compounded in one case but not in another?

Read on to learn about the difference a space makes.

Do you know the difference between "onto" and "on to"?

Onto vs. on to

Onto and on are both prepositions. When onto is used, it implies movement from one place to another, such as walking onto a stage. It is also used to say that someone knows something.


She looked like a million bucks as she walked onto the yacht.

They didn't know he'd been listening at the door. He was onto them.

She jumped onto the bed, eager for him to join her.

On and to are used together as separate words when on is an adverb closely tied to the verb it follows, and to is the preposition for the following phrase.


She felt it was time to move on to bigger and better things.

He was coming on to her at the bar.

Awhile vs. a while

I swear, if my spellcheck could physically knock me over the head every time I type "awhile", I'd be sporting all sorts of bumps on the noggin. What is the proper use?

Awhile is an adverb. It's only used when the phrase "for a time" (or "for a while") can be used in its place. It cannot follow a preposition.

The noun while means a period or interval of time. A while is a noun phrase (article + noun). This phrase should always be used after a preposition.


This grammar stuff is doing my head in. I need to go lie down for a while.

(You can't have "awhile" because "for" is a preposition)

It was only after a while that he realized she was stringing him along.

I need to rest awhile.

(In this sentence, "awhile" means "for a while" and has no preposition in front of it)

“Come on, baby, let’s just sit here awhile.”

As you can see, a click on the space bar makes a difference, and it’s easy to get it wrong. For a quick and handy refresher, pin our infograph.

Common grammar confusion


Post Author: The Swede

#sheilaandswede #editingandgrammar #grammar #amediting #amwriting

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