English has a number of words that make the language confusing for those who are just learning the language. They include homophones, homonyms, compound words, and word pairs which look and sound similar but have different meanings.

Compound words which can be one word or two can be especially confusing. Here we will look at four of these confusing word pairs; everyday vs every day, anytime vs any time, awhile vs a while, sometime vs some time, and someday vs some day.

Anytime vs Any time

This compound word is an example of how the English language has changed. A few decades ago, the accepted standard was to always write “any time” as two words. A few scholars still consider using the compound version to be lazy writing.

Anytime [any time]

is an adverb which means whenever.In almost all cases the two word version and the compound version mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

For example:–

  • I am available anytime if you’d like me to help with your move
  • I am available any time if you’d like me to help with your move.

“Any time” [or anytime]

can also serve as a conjunction.

– Anytime we had the chance we would go for a swim.

– Any time we had the chance we would go for a swim.

There are a few instances where any time should be two words.

When the phrase is used with a preposition like “at” two words should be used.

– I will gladly help at any time of the day or night.When you are referring to an amount of time the two word version is used.

– Do you have any time to review my test today?.

Everyday vs Every day

Like many compound words, “everyday” and “every day” are typically more confusing in spoken English than in written English since most speakers do not parse the words correctly.

Everyday

 – This is an adjective; which means “mundane”, “typical”, “ordinary”, or “standard”. The phrase “everyday routine” refers to a normal, ordinary day where nothing unusual occurred. As the English language becomes even less formal, you will occasionally hear people use the word as a noun, sort of a shorthand version of “everyday chores.”

Every day

– When written as two words it means “each day”, “every” is an adjective for “day.” One easy way of checking your usage is the replace the work “every” with the word “each” and checking that your sentence still makes sense. For example, “each day routine” is not correct whereas “each day I drink a glass of milk” does.

Someday vs Some day

Someday

– This compound word is an adverb and means “at an indefinite time in the future.”

– Someday I will invest in a new mobile phone but the old one will be ok until I do so.

Some day

– Some day is an adjective, some, and a noun, day. Some means “unknown” or “unspecified”.

When paired with day it means a single day that is unknown.– The term paper is due some day in May.

3 thoughts on “Compound words and their meanings

  1. As an avocational philologist, I really enjoy your English-speaking and writing advice! “You’re on a roll.” 😊
    Remember, also, punctuation saves lives:
    Let’s eat grandma.
    Let’s eat, grandma. 😂

    Liked by 2 people

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