Is it one word or two?

Watch out for these six words that have drastically different meanings when split in two.

1. Everyday vs every day

Here’s an everyday word that I see used inappropriately every day. “Everyday” can refer to something that happens Monday to Sunday, but it generally means “ordinary” or “usual.” Use the separated phrase “every day” when you want to be clear that something happens on each day. For example, brushing your teeth is an everyday ritual that has to happen every day.

2. Apart vs a part

If a part of your day is spent learning grammar you’ll stand apart among your peers.  “A part” means a piece of something, while “apart” means separated or not together. So you can take apart an old car, or you can buy a part to fix it.

3. Always vs all ways

There’s always someone who finds all the ways to make this mistake. “Always” means all the time, repeatedly or under all circumstances.  “All ways” is every direction and every possibility.  As in: I’ve tried all ways to make broccoli but my toddler always refuses to eat it.

4. Allot vs a lot

If you can allot enough time, I’ll show you that this error happens a lot.  To “allot” is to give or share something, officially distribute, or assign.  “A lot” just refers to a whole bunch of stuff. Remember that “allot” has two “l”s and while, “a lot” is frequently written as one word,“alot” is not a word at all.  Teachers should allot special lessons to a lot of their students on this one.

5. Makeup vs make up

I can’t make up any excuses for not knowing makeup is something you wear on your face.  This is a tricky one because you can also make up for lost time, or make up a story and even use makeup to make up your face. To make it a little easier to remember: “makeup” is usually a noun where as “make up” generally describes an action. 

6. All ready vs already

I hope you’re all ready to learn something you didn’t know already! “Already” is an adverb referring to something that’s happened before the time in question, or to emphasis how early something has happened. It can also show impatience. Consider the difference with a high school student being asked if her homework is done: “Yes, I did it already.”  “I already did it!” “My homework is done so stop asking already!” And if she really did her homework, she’s all ready for that big test tomorrow. “All ready” means you’re completely prepared, or that everything is in place.

Tip: Try writing your own sentences using the single and two-word examples above. Practice makes perfect!

~ Christina Friend

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