Word War: Everyday vs Every Day

When you go to class on a daily basis, do you say that it is something you do everyday or every day? The words everyday and every day are easily and commonly confused in English. They look pretty much the same when you write them out on paper—separated by just one tiny space. Plus, when you say them out loud, they sound exactly the same. But even though we skip over their difference in everyday conversation, they do serve different functions within a sentence.

The best way to understand the difference between these two words is to look at what function they serve in our sentences. Are they an adjective, noun, or adverb? Today, we are going to go over everyday vs. every day and discuss a few tips to keep track of these words.

Everyday, when used as a single word, is an adjective, meaning “commonplace, usual; suitable for or used on ordinary days.” Since it is an adjective, it will be modifying a noun in the sentence, so you should expect it to appear near a noun. For example:

Since we’re just walking around town, I think I’ll wear my everyday shoes.
The worries of everyday life can drag you down.
This is an outfit for everyday use; it can be worn whenever.

Every day, when used as two words, is an adverbial phrase, meaning “each day; daily.” The first word every is an adjective and the second word day is a noun, and together, they function as an adverbial phrase. Therefore, it does not have the same function as everyday. For example:

I need to start going to the gym every day.
I used to run every day, but I stopped after my surgery.
I get up for work every day at six.

Since it is being used as an adverb, every day modifies adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs, but not nouns.

There are a few ways to keep track of every day vs. everyday. First, everyday is an adjective, so if you are looking to modify a noun, you will want to use everyday. Second, every day is synonymous with the phrase each day. If you can replace every day with the words each day and it still makes sense, then the two-word phrase is correct. If it doesn’t make sense with each day inserted, the single word everyday is correct. For example:

If you drink milk every day, your bones will be strong.
If you drink milk each day, your bones will be strong.

In this sentence both every day and each day make sense, showing us that every day is correct.

Everyday and every day function differently in sentences, so it’s important to use them correctly. Everyday is an adjective and modifies nouns in sentences. Every day is an adverbial phrase. It can be substituted with each day when you aren’t sure which one is correct.

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