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Can I say "I haven't written to you for a long time" instead of "for a while"? And what exactly does "for a while" mean in that phrase?

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"While" (noun) - means a period of time. Examples:

  • "We chatted for a while."
  • "They didn't see each other for a while."

Another good question to ask ourselves is: How long is "a while"?

  • "You'll have to wait a while" usually means "You'll have to wait a long time." However the time value differs according to context; it can be "a minute", "an hour", "a day", "a week" and e.t.c.

"Quite" often modifies "while" and often means "for a long time":

  • I haven't seen him for quite a while.

"Short" and "long" can also modify "while":

  • It's been a short while since I've heard from him.
  • He has been sitting here for a long while.

"Long time" - means a long period of time. Examples:

  • "I haven't seen you for a long time."
  • "It takes him a long time to come here."

Note: you can use "long" as a noun to imply the same meaning:

  • I haven't seen you for long = I haven't seen you for a long time

Depending on what you wish you say you can use either!

  • 1
    That's what I wanted to know about "for a while". Thank you! – through.a.haze Dec 12 '16 at 15:21

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