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Quick answer
"In a while" is an adverb which is often translated as "en un rato", and "for a while" is a phrase which is often translated as "un rato". Learn more about the difference between "in a while" and "for a while" below.
in a while(
ihn
 
ey
 
wayl
)
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (indicating a future time)
a. en un rato
I have to go to my next class. I'll see you in a while.Tengo que ir a mi próxima clase. Te veo en un rato.
b. enseguida
Will you mow the lawn? - Yeah, I'll do it in a while. I need to clean my room first.¿Puedes cortar el césped? - Sí, lo hago enseguida. Tengo que limpiar mi habitación primero.
2. (indicating a time in the past; used with negative expressions)
a. hace rato
Where's Arianna? - I don't know. I haven't seen her in a while.¿Dónde está Arianna? - No sé. Hace rato que no la veo.
b. hace tiempo
I haven't talked to my parents in a while, but I'm going to visit them next week.Hace tiempo que no hablo con mis padres, pero voy a visitarlos la semana que viene.
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for a while(
for
 
uh
 
wayl
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (general)
a. un rato
If you want Subway, the line is pretty long. You'll have to wait for a while.Si quieres comer Subway, hay una fila larga. Tendrás que esperar un rato.
b. por un tiempo
I think it would be good for us to take a break for a while.Creo que sería bueno que tomáramos un descanso por un tiempo.
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