One Word Or Two? What’s The Difference?

one word or two

There’s sometimes confusion about whether to use one word or two, in certain circumstances.

Altogether or all together? Sometimes or some times?

Does it matter?

Well, yes, it often does.

One word or two; it makes a difference in meaning

I’ll start with one that causes problems most often.

A lot | Allot | Alot 

A lot means ‘many’ or ‘often’.

She owns a lot of books.

He goes fishing a lot.

Allot is a verb that means ‘to dish out’ or ‘to allocate’.

I will allot each of you a particular task.

Alot can be dealt with easily; there is no such word.

All together / Altogether 

All together means that many things or people are close to one another or gathered together.

We were all together again for the family celebration.

Altogether is a modifier (usually modifies an adjective) and means ‘totally’ or ‘completely’.

She was altogether wrong about the result of the proposal.

Some of you might remember the phrase:

They were dancing in the altogether.

It means They were dancing completely naked (and probably all together).

(See, there was a reason for the image above).

Every day | Everyday 

Every day is an adjective-noun combination, which indicates each individual day.

They went for a run every day.

Everyday is an adjective, which describes something that occurs every day. The word can often be replaced by ‘usual’ or ‘habitual’.

It was my everyday habit to go for a run

‘Everyday’ can also mean ‘ordinary’ or ‘mundane’.

They were wearing their everyday clothes

One word or two: watch the grammar

Some times | Sometimes

The meaning is almost the same but there are differences in the grammatical structures you need to use.

Some times is another adjective-noun combination that indicates certain or specific occasions. It needs a verb or a preposition in front of it.

There are (verb) some times when I feel the circumstances are ideal.

At (preposition) some times, there is an atmosphere of tension.

Sometimes is an adverb (of time) and therefore it indicates when something happens. When there are two verbs, an adverb modifies the verb it is closest to.

Sometimes, I feel the circumstances are ideal. 
(I only feel that sometimes)

I feel the circumstances are ideal sometimes. 
(They are ideal sometimes)

Sometimes, there is an atmosphere of tension. 
(Because there’s only one verb here, there’s no ambiguity).

These work in a similar way; still watch the grammar

Any one | Anyone

Any one is an adjective-noun combination, which refers to a special individual thing or person. It is singular and requires a singular verb.

Any one of you is a potential winner.

I would be happy to see any one of the five solutions adopted.

Anyone is a pronoun that refers to an unspecified person or persons (‘anything’ is used for non-persons).

He wasn’t referring to anyone in particular.

Anyone can attend the gathering

Every one | Everyone

This works in a similar way to Any one / Anyone

Every one is an adjective-noun combination that refers to all individual things or persons in a group.

Every one of you is important and valuable.

I noticed that every one of the cats was grey.

Everyone is a pronoun that refers to ‘all persons’ (‘everything’ is used for all non-specific, non-persons). It often replaces ‘Every one of you (or them, or us)’.

She was speaking to everyone.

Everyone is welcome.

Any time | Anytime

This also works in a similar way to Any one / Anyone.

These terms can be used interchangeably, in most cases, without ambiguity

One word or two; it makes you a better writer

As always, it’s about clarity. And a clear writer is a more successful writer.

To be clear in written and spoken language is to Be Word Wise.

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