Everyday and Every Day

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The space between two words can make a difference: Everyday doesn't mean the same thing as every day. Just like anyone and any one, or anytime and any time, the two-word phrase sounds similar to the single word and often is perceived the same. But when you consider the correct usage and the definitions of every day and everyday, it becomes clear which one is appropriate to use and when. 

Definitions of Everyday and Every Day

The adjective everyday (written as one word) means routine, ordinary, or commonplace. It's frequently paired with the word "occurrence" to describe something mundane. It often directly precedes the noun it modifies, such as when we say something is an "everyday occurrence."

The adverbial phrase every day (written as two words) means each day or daily. It's used when you are talking about when something happens.

Difference Between Every Day and Everyday

Here are a few examples of every day and everyday and their usage in context:

  • "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)

Tips on How to Remember Which to Use

Knowing which word to use depends on context. Here are a few tips on how to remember the difference.

Tip 1: "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 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?)." (William Carroll, "The Untied Stats on American and Other Computer Assisted Writing Errors." iUniverse, 2005)

To test out the rule, change "every" to "each" in the sentence. If it would still make sense, use the two-word version. Note that when everyday is used as an adjective in the third line below, it directly precedes the noun it modifies. When inserting "each" doesn't work in the sentence, then you'll need the adjectival form.

  • Two words: You have to do your exercises every day.
  • "Each" test: You have to do your exercises each day.
  • Adjectival, one word: You have to do your everyday exercises.
  • Incorrect change: You have to do your eachday exercises.
  • Incorrect change: You have to do your each day exercises.

Tip 2: If you can insert the additional adjective "single" between "every" and "day," and the sentence still makes sense, then you want to use the two-word phrase. Notice how the incorrect change doesn't make sense as it is written. After hearing it, you want to rearrange the words in the correct order.

  • Two words: You have to do your exercises every day.
  • "Single" test: You have to do your exercises every single day.
  • Adjectival, one word: You have to do your everyday exercises.
  • Incorrect change: You have to do your every single day exercises.

Practice Exercises for Everyday and Every Day

  1. Try doing something _____ for no other reason than you would rather not do it.
  2. "Music is supposed to wash away the dust of _____ life." (Art Blakey)
  3. It is common for me to read _______.
  4. You can't wear your ____ clothes to a formal wedding!
  5. ____ I have to go through the daily reports.
  6. I have to do the ____ cleaning. 
  7. Some weeks I feel like I spill my coffee _____ .
  8. The ____ data entry is being taken care of by our intern.

 Answers to Practice Exercises: Every Day and Everyday

  1. Try doing something every day for no other reason than you would rather not do it.
  2. Music is supposed to wash away the dust of everyday life.
  3. It is common for me to read every day.
  4. You can't wear your everyday clothes to a formal wedding!
  5. Every day I have to go through the daily reports.
  6. I have to do the everyday cleaning.
  7. Some weeks I feel like I spill my coffee every day.
  8. The everyday data entry is being taken care of by our intern.