Wait or Await?


20 September, 2019

This week, we answer Van's question.

Question:

Van writes: "Could you give me the explanation about the difference between wait and await?"

Ask a Teacher
Ask a Teacher

Answer:

Dear Van,

Thanks for writing us. The two words have the same basic meaning, but they are used differently.

"Wait" is a verb and a noun.

It means to stay in a place until an expected event happens. Here is an example:

"We wait for the train to come."

Or:

"I hate to wait in long lines."

And:

"I waited for my friend to arrive."

Also, it is often followed by "to'" and a verb.

Like this:

"I'm waiting to see the doctor."

As a noun, wait refers to the act or time of waiting.

"After a short wait, I saw my doctor."

Now, how is ‘await' different?

First, there is no noun form. Await is used only as a verb and requires an object. It is often used in more formal or serious writing and speaking. It takes the place of "to wait for."

For example, you can say, "We await your answers to these questions," instead of "We wait for your answers to these questions."

It is commonly used when you are waiting for something expected but not in the immediate sense. For example:

"The couple await the birth of their first child."

Or:

"The suspect is in jail awaiting trial."

And that's Ask A Teacher! We await further questions from our English learners!

I'm Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section below.

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Words in This Story

formal – adj. requiring or using serious and proper clothes and manners

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