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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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One Word or Two? Part IV


Do you have trouble remembering whether everyday should be spelled as one word or two? Well, there's a good reason for the confusion, because it can be either!  It all depends on the intended meaning.

Here are some guidelines for determining whether words like everyday should be written as one or two words. These guidelines are based on those provided in the tenth edition of The Gregg Reference Manual.¹ Example sentences are original content provided by Accu-Assist.

Already vs. All ready
●   She has already [previously] given her permission for Caleb to go on the field trip.
●   The children are all ready [all prepared] for bed.
Alright vs. All right
According to The Gregg Reference Manual:

"Like all wrong, the expression all right should be spelled as two words. (While some dictionaries list alright without comment, this spelling is not generally accepted as correct.)"
●   Is it all right if we stay in tonight?
Anyway vs. Any way
●   I was planning to stop by the store tomorrow anyway [in any case].
●   I'll be glad to assist with your project in any way [by any method] I can.
Awhile vs. A while
According to The Gregg Reference Manual:

"The one-word form is an adverb; the two-word form is a noun. NOTE: When a preposition precedes this expression [as in the second example below], be sure to spell a while as two words."
●   I'd like to wait  awhile before having dessert.  (Adverb)  
●   I'd like to wait for a while before having dessert.
(Noun; object of the preposition for.)
Everyday vs. Every day
I'd prefer to use our everyday [ordinary] dishes rather than the fine china for tonight's dinner.
She called me every day [each day] this week to ask if I was feeling better.

Hands down, I think awhile vs. a while is the trickiest pair to master. Just remember to verify whether or not a preposition precedes the word. If so, split awhile into two words, and you'll be good to go!

The next issue of Grammar Tips & Tidbits features a quiz to test your skills. You can take the quiz here.

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1. Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. 10th ed.
        (New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005), p. 311-345.