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Is there a stylistic, tense, or plural difference between the words (wait) and (await)? Does one hold more weight or emphasis than the other?

more so than their promises they await for a new day.

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2 Answers 2

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wait for is used to mean you are delaying until something happens.

await has an equivalent meaning to "wait for", but perhaps more formal or old-fashioned.

wait on its own makes no sense in this context.

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The difference is stylistic only, and depends on register (i.e., formality). Note that you never use await for; await works all by itself without a preposition.

wait for

is the plain unvarnished version conveying the notion that something is expected. Tom waited for their reply, but it never came.

await

is more up-register version, so it's likely to be used in more polite or formal situations: We await your reply.

Let's illustrate the difference between the two in the following scenario: A job candidate hasn't heard back from a company after an initial interview. Consider the following fragments from hypothetical "feeler" emails.

I enjoyed meeting with your representatives. I am waiting for your reply.

or

I enjoyed meeting with your representatives. I await your reply.

The first version can be perceived as abrupt and demanding. The reader will likely hear the writer's voice as harsh and peremptory, and will most likely be a bit taken aback. In such a situation, the sender of the email would be better advised to use await or another construction, such as "I look forward to your reply."

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  • Well explained.
    – Lambie
    Dec 10, 2017 at 17:51
  • Good answer, but the difference between "wait for" and "await" isn't purely stylistic; there are grammatical nuances. You can say "I'm waiting for the lights to change", but not "I'm awaiting the lights to change", nor "I await the lights to change". There seems to be a further nuance too: you can say "I await your reply" or "I'm awaiting you reply", but you can't normally say "I wait for your reply" as a complete sentence. (You could say "each time, I wait for your reply", but you wouldn't be able to say "I wait for your reply" in the example you gave.)
    – rjpond
    Dec 10, 2017 at 18:03
  • @rjpond: What, you couldn't say "I await the changing of the light?" That's stilted and weird, but perfectly grammatical, and would hardly be misunderstood.
    – Robusto
    Dec 10, 2017 at 20:16
  • You could indeed say "I await the changing of the light", but you can't say "I await the light to change" (whereas you can say "I'm waiting for the light to change"). So there is clearly a difference in the grammatical structures permitted by "await" and those that follow "wait for".
    – rjpond
    Dec 10, 2017 at 20:23
  • OK, but that is rather a tangential point, isn't it?
    – Robusto
    Dec 10, 2017 at 20:49

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