Describe us however you like. We’ll rant for hours about how video games were created in the “good old days.” We’ll become visibly agitated when you tell us that you think Man vs Wild was real, and we’ll sound off about Marvel vs DC all day long.
We’ve also been deputized by the grammar police. Of course, we understand that some of you simply never learned the difference between their, there and they’re, and we’re happy to enlighten you. In fact, this article is about another set of “homonyms,” of sorts. Everyday vs every day.
Now, the two may seem like them mean exactly the same thing, but it’s just not so. Let’s settle the every day vs everyday battle once and for all.
Everyday vs Every Day
They mean different things. Let’s begin by defining each of them, and we’ll go from there.
The definition of “everyday,” according to Merriam-Webster, is:
encountered or used routinely or typically
That means something which is everyday is something that is commonplace. An everyday thing is easily found, frequently experienced or just plain ordinary.
So what does every day mean? It means each day. Let’s look at some sentences to provide examples.
- I wake up and eat tomatoes for breakfast every day.
- It’s an everyday occurrence for me to eat tomatoes breakfast.
- Every day, she listens to Third Eye Blind on high volume.
- It’s an everyday thing for the neighbors to call in a noise complaint.
There’s a distinct difference between every day and everyday. Everyday is an adjective describing either an event or an object. Every day is just the frequency at which something occurs.
Why is Every Day vs Everyday So Confusing?
Alright, we’re not terrible people. We know that sometimes people just “write as they speak.” And because everyday and every day sound exactly alike, the every day vs everyday decision may be confusing for some.
There’s a simple way to figure out which to use, though, if you can remember to do it. Simply replace the word you’re trying to use with a synonym. Let us show you.
We’ve already determined that a synonym (something which means the same) to everyday is “commonplace.” And that every day means, literally, “each day.”
As you write, try substituting those words into your sentence, and see if they make sense. Let’s try it.
The escape of the whales from the zoo became a(n) __________ incident.
b. each day
Which makes more sense? Commonplace! Therefore, everyday is the correct word to use in this sentence.
Let’s try another.
Tina called the Butterball Turkey hotline __________.
b. each day
Tina really wanted tips on how to cook her turkey, so she called the hotline every day. See? Easy peasy!
Every Day vs Everyday Grammar
We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating. The English language is confusing. Every time you think you’ve learned a set rule, you stumble upon an exception. Compound words are good examples of how the English language continually jumbles up grammar.
A compound word is, in short, two words which are put together. Flowerpot. Racecar. Carryover. Football.
Let’s look at the word carryover as an example of how compound words are different from the words they’re comprised of. We’ll do this by our usual method of giving you sentences as examples.
- Hector wanted to carry over the balance of his tax refund to the next year.
- Hector used the carryover from his taxes to pay the next year’s.
Unfortunately, they’re the same words but they have two different meanings. In the first sentence, the phrase “carry over” is a verb. It’s something that Hector did. In the second sentence, however, the carryover was a noun. It was a balance that Hector used responsibly in paying the next year’s taxes.
Every day vs everyday are much the same. Every is a word which describes day. Everyday, however, is itself a describing word.
Now, there are some instances in which it frankly doesn’t matter. The grammar patrol won’t arrest you for writing “flower pot” instead of “flowerpot.” But there are, simply put, some cases when the compound does not mean the same as when the words are used separately.
Everyday vs Every Day: Don’t You Fret
In the same way that no one will arrest you for using flower pot instead of flowerpot, it’s unlikely that you’ll be imprisoned if you incorrectly use everyday vs every day. Yes, it’s a pet peeve of ours, but we’re nice people. Really.
The only time that you’ll likely run into trouble is if you’re writing an academic essay, addressing someone in a professional setting, or any other such “formal” occasion. But even in that case, if you’re unsure, there are a few things you can do.
First, look it up in the dictionary. It’s easy to forget which is which, and sometimes you may just need a little memory jog. Of course, you can always just bookmark this page and refer back to it as you see fit.
Secondly, you can always use a synonym for the word. Find a different word which means the same as you’re trying to impart, and you can’t go wrong. Common, frequent, commonplace, ordinary and pedestrian can be a good fit in place of “everyday.” And each day, regularly, frequently, or often can be good replacements for “every day.”
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with using autocorrect. We all do it. If you’re typing something which has to be turned in to your boss or a professor, use a program like Pages or Word. You’ll see that the word is underlined if the software suspects it’s incorrect. Review your word choice and fix accordingly.
Overall, every day vs everyday is a tricky choice you may be faced with. But it doesn’t have to be too tough. Think about the context of your sentence, plug in some words which mean the same, and you should be able to make the decision easily.
Even if not, don’t worry. The grammar police won’t punish you too badly.