• Anyone
  • Anything
  • Anytime
  • Anywhere
  • Everyone
  • Everything
  • Every time
  • Everywhere
  • No one
  • Nothing
  • No time
  • Nowhere
  • Someone
  • Something
  • Sometime
  • Somewhere

Why is there a discrepancy? Is there any rule for determining when to use a single word vs. two words?

  • 3
    Well, "no one" probably remains two words to avoid a potentially-confusing spelling. Dunno about the rest, or a general rule, though. – Marthaª Nov 23 '10 at 0:16
  • 1
    I would have said "anytime" and "sometime" were controversial, also. "My sometime drinking buddy" means my former drinking buddy, but events in the past happened "some time ago". Similarly, I see "any time" a lot more frequently than "anytime", I think. – thesunneversets Nov 23 '10 at 1:06
  • Agree. Re anytime/any time*: When do you want to go?" "Any time is fine with me." "But anytime I go anywhere, my annoying little sister wants to tag along!" (**Anytime is an adverb, akin yo whenever. Any time is a NP and can act as a subject)) – Brian Hitchcock Apr 13 '15 at 6:39

Language is always changing, and most often in the direction of simplification. You can even see the evolution happening before your own eyes. "All ready" became "already"; "all right" is in the process, through usage and repetition, of becoming "alright" (if not in fact "a'ight"). It is already accepted as an informal alternative to "all right" and I predict that it will supplant the two-word version altogether (!) except in the most formal writing (e.g., academic papers) within the lifetimes of many of us.

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  • 3
    "Already", even as used by you, means "now and since a time prior to this". "All Ready" has never meant this. – MickeyfAgain_BeforeExitOfSO Nov 23 '10 at 14:47
  • 1
    @mickeyf: According to Dictionary.com, it has. Please visit the link I put on that sentence. – Robusto Nov 23 '10 at 14:49
  • 1
    It's funny; I was unaware that "alright" had not already done this. Perhaps I mostly see it used in very informal contexts? – SamB May 3 '11 at 4:54
  • 1
    "A lot" is next – Chimango Chisuwo Mar 30 '19 at 22:34

Pure convention. Unfortunately, there isn't a logical reason why some of those are written as a single word, and some aren't. It's essentially a matter of tradition. Consider especially the case of "no one", which is very clearly a single phonological word with a single word stress, but which has never been accepted as a compound.

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  • 2
    Like I said above, I think "no one" remains two words because it's not supposed to be pronounced /new-nee/. But come to think of it, I have seen it spelled "no-one", primarily in Victorian novels. – Marthaª Nov 23 '10 at 6:39

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