This site addresses a number of confusing word pairs, including less and fewer, effect and affect, and lie and lay. Sometimes writers are confused by the difference between the one-word modifiers anymore and everyday and the two-word phrases “any more” and “every day.”
Can you spot problems with the use of anymore and everyday in these sentences?
- James does not have anymore vacation time left this year.
- Melanie does not need anymore papers on her desk now.
- John does not subscribe to Time magazine anymore.
- A national grocery chain boasts that it offers “substantial savings everyday.”
- Elaine is late for work nearly everyday.
- Everyday language is often unacceptable in business writing.
Only sentences 3 and 6 use anymore and everyday correctly.
The Adverb Anymore
The word anymore is an adverb. According to Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, it can mean “any longer” or “at the present time.” Thus, sentence 3 is correct because we could write “John does not subscribe to Time magazine any longer.”
Here are two more examples of anymore used correctly:
- Fred is not the president of his professional organization anymore.
- Dorothy said to Toto, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
The Adjective Phrase “Any More”
The two-word phrase “any more,” on the other hand, functions adjectivally; that is, it modifies (describes) a noun. It can be replaced by the adjective additional in most cases, and it will always be followed by a noun.
Sentences 1 and 2, then, should refer to “any more vacation” and “any more papers,” respectively.
The Adjective Everyday
Everyday is an adjective. Sentence 6 is correct because everyday modifies the noun language. According to Webster’s, it means “encountered or used routinely or typically.” Here are two more correct uses of everyday:
- The quilt was no longer put to everyday use but was hung on the wall and revered as an heirloom.
- For Eric, running ten miles was an everyday activity.
One way to know when the closed-compound adjective is the right choice is that it will always be followed by a noun (in these two examples by use and activity).
The Adverb Phrase “Every Day”
The prepositional phrase “[on] every day” functions adverbially, describing when an action occurs. (Grammarphiles who wish to go deeper here, please see the “bonus” section below.)
Thus, the local grocery chain should write that it “offers [the verb, the action] substantial savings [how often?] every day.” Sentence 5, in its attempt to tell us how often Elaine is late for work, needs the adverb phrase, not the one-word adjective: “Elaine is late for work nearly every day.”
Why Anymore and Everyday Are Tricky
The reason these phrases and words are so confusing is that in one case, the two-word phrase is adjectival (“any more”) and the single word is adverbial (anymore), while with the other case we have the reverse: the single word everyday is adjectival and the two-word phrase “every day” is adverbial.
Bonus Note for the Grammarphiles
As we noted above, the two-word phrase “every day” in sentence 5 is really a prepositional phrase with an elliptical preposition: literally, it means “on every day.” It is not uncommon for us to omit the preposition in adverb phrases about time.
Consider, for example, “She plans to leave tomorrow” or “She plans to leave Friday.” The words tomorrow and Friday are nouns, so by themselves they aren’t adverbs.
Instead, in these sentences they serve as the objects of the prepositional phrases “on tomorrow” (or, as a Shakespearean character would have said, “on the morrow”) and “on Friday.” Prepositional phrases function as a unit, serving as either adjectives or adverbs (and occasionally even nouns). In this case, the entire prepositional phrases “on tomorrow” and “on Friday” function adverbially.
Many people choose to omit the preposition in phrases such as “[on] tomorrow” or “[on] yesterday,” but the prepositions are still an important part of the syntax of the sentences in which those adverb phrases function, even when, as in these instances, they are elliptical (that is, when we choose not to say or write them).
Which one of the two choices in parentheses is correct in each sentence?
- We hardly see you (any more, anymore).
- Marsha insists that she is going to resign if she is given (any more, anymore) work to do.
- The president of the company will not tolerate insubordination (any more, anymore).
- Fire drills have been an (every day, everyday) occurrence in this office building for the past two weeks.
- Almost (every day, everyday) for the past two weeks, the tenants in this office building have been subjected to a fire drill.
- The editors claim that their new magazine will appeal to (every day, everyday) people.
- anymore (adverb modifying the verb see)
- any more (adjective modifying the noun work)
- anymore (adverb modifying the verb will [not] tolerate)
- everyday (adjective modifying the noun occurrence)
- every day (adverb modifying the verb are subjected)
- everyday (adjective modifying the noun people)
Copyright 2001 Get It Write. Revised 2019.