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Words Mississippi

Suggest improvements for the highlighted problem area:

Ms. Manthey happyly reported the results of the quiz to the class. On question number two they were alright. Every student had correctly picked Osceola as the town that had once been on the banks of the Mississippi. On question number five, however, there was disagreement between the students. They discussed the answer for awhile. Less than five students knew that the Mississippi carried sediment at a rate of 30 tons per second. A larger amount of them thought that it was less. On the essay question, one student, Quanah, described the river as plaiful because it meanders back and forth below the confluence of the Ohio River.


- Awhile versus A While -

Another similar error in usage is shown later in our opening paragraph:

    They discussed the answer for awhile.

The rule here is simple:

    awhile = for a while

Whenever you see the word awhile in a sentence, substitute the equivalent expression for a while. If the sentence makes sense, you may keep the word awhile. The sentence in our opening paragraph would read:

    They discussed the answer for for a while.

Therefore, we should change the sentence to whichever sounds better:

    They discussed the answer for a while.
    They discussed the answer awhile.

To help remember this rule, try making up a mnemonic such as:

    For a while we looked for a stray,
      that was astray awhile in May.


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