I'd like to know the difference between the two verbs since they seem to have the same meaning. When should I use await, and when wait?
Wait is an intransitive verb—it doesn't take a direct object; consequently it can't be cast into passive voice, and its past participle can't act as an adjective:
We are waiting eagerly. but
✲ We are waiting him.
✲ The event is waited.
✲ His eagerly waited arrival has been delayed.
Await is a transitive verb—it does take a direct object.
We await him eagerly.
The event is awaited.
His eagerly awaited arrival has been delayed.
Wait for may be treated as a transitive phrasal verb.
We are waiting for him.
But it is not ordinarily used in the passive voice. These are grammatically acceptable but sound a little odd.
? The event is waited for.
? His eagerly waited-for arrival has been delayed.
✲ marks a usage as unacceptable ? marks a usage as questionably acceptable
The word ‘wait’ is used in the sense of ‘remain’. On the other hand, the word ‘await’ is used in the sense of ‘wait on’ or ‘expect’. This is the main difference between the two words.
Observe the two sentences,
- He waited for a long time at the bus stop.
- She had a long wait.
In both the sentences, you can see that the word ‘wait’ is used in the sense of ‘remain’ and hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘he remained for a long time at the bus stop’, and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘she remained for a long time’.
Observe the two sentences,
- She awaited the results of the examination.
- He was awaiting her arrival.
In both the sentences, you can find that the word ‘await’ is used in the sense of ‘wait on’ or ‘expect’ and hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘she expected the results of the examination’ or ‘she waited on the results of the examination’. On the other hand, the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘he was expecting her arrival’ or ‘he was waiting on her arrival’.
From the BBC Learning English forums:
The first difference is in the grammatical structures that are associated with these two verbs.
The verb ‘await’ must have an object - for example, ‘I am awaiting your answer’. And the object of ‘await’ is normally inanimate, not a person, and often abstract. So you can’t say, ‘John was awaiting me’.
The verb ‘wait’ can come in different structures. Firstly, you can just use ‘wait’ on its own: ‘We have been waiting and waiting and waiting and nobody has come to talk to us.’
Another structure that is very common is to use ‘wait’ with another verb - for example, ‘I waited in line to go into the theatre.’
Very often, with ‘wait’, you mention the length of time that you have been waiting - for example, ‘I have been waiting here for at least half an hour.’ Finally, speakers often mention what or who they have been waiting for - so, if a friend was really late you could say, ‘I have been waiting for you for two hours!’
await is transitive - that means it can have a direct object - I await your reply
wait is intransitive and cannot have a direct object so a preposition MUST be added and it usually FOR in the context of awaiting. but you can also say “I waited from 6 until 6.30 but the bus never came” you could also say “I awaited the bus from 6 to 6.30 but it never came”