9

Examples:

  • 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
  • 4
    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, 2010 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. Nov 23, 2010 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)) Apr 13, 2015 at 6:39

2 Answers 2

7

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.

4
  • 3
    "Already", even as used by you, means "now and since a time prior to this". "All Ready" has never meant this. Nov 23, 2010 at 14:47
  • 1
    @mickeyf: According to Dictionary.com, it has. Please visit the link I put on that sentence.
    – Robusto
    Nov 23, 2010 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, 2011 at 4:54
  • 1
    "A lot" is next Mar 30, 2019 at 22:34
2

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.

1
  • 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, 2010 at 6:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.