Everyday and Every Day

Commonly Confused Words

In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" (1973), the adjective everyday modifies the noun use.

The space between two words can make a difference: everyday doesn't mean quite the same thing as every day.

Definitions

The adjective everyday (written as one word) means routine, ordinary, or commonplace.

The adverbial phrase every day (written as two words) means each day or daily.

Examples

  • "The effort involved in doing even the smallest, most everyday job in rough weather is very tiring."
    (Dee Caffari, Against the Flow. A & C Black, 2007)
     
  • "Every day was a happy day, and every night was peaceful."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper, 1952)
     
  • "If something can be used every day, it is suitable for everyday use. Some chores must be done every day, which makes them everyday chores."
    (Charles Harrington Elster, The Accidents of Style. St. Martin's, 2010)
     

Usage Note

"The two-word phrase every day is so often replaced incorrectly by the compound everyday in the writings of advertisers, promoters, and others who should know better, it is no wonder that less experienced users of the language get confused. A simple rule: If the expression can be replaced by 'each day,' then it is two words. If you would not write 'eachday' as one word, then don't replace it (correction, them) with a single word. Everyday is an adjective which almost always comes immediately before the noun it qualifies: 'everyday clothes,' 'everyday happenings,' 'everyday people' (Sly and the Family Stone?).

The computer is not going to make the correction, but an alert writer can do it easily."
(William Carroll, The Untied Stats on American and Other Computer Assisted Writing Errors. iUniverse, 2005)

Practice

(a) Try doing something _____ for no other reason than you would rather not do it.

(b) "Music is supposed to wash away the dust of _____ life."
(Art Blakey)

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

 Answers to Practice Exercises: Every Day and Everyday

(a) Try doing something every day for no other reason than you would rather not do it.

(b) Music is supposed to wash away the dust of everyday life.

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words