June 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 2
Grammar Trap: everyday vs. every day

A few years ago, this column addressed the confusion between “anyone” and “any one.”

To resolve that particular one-word vs. two-word conundrum, you must first determine what you mean to say — and that isn’t always easy. However, the difference between “everyday” and “every day” is easy to remember.

“Everyday” (one word) is an adjective to describe the average, mundane, quotidian, run-of-the-mill, and so on.

Example: I wear my everyday shoes to work.

“Every day” (two words) is an expression that means each day and should be used for everything other than the quotidian.

Example: I wear shoes to work every day.

You could use both versions in one sentence — “I wear my everyday shoes to work every day” — but that would be downright nutty.

An easy rule of thumb: if you can substitute “each day” and your sentence still makes sense, use two words.

It’s not every day I can offer such an everyday rule.

Kevin Leigh Smith, kevlsmith@purdue.edu
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