Anytime vs. Any Time: Essential Differences and Usage Tips

Should you say, "call me anytime" or "call me any time" when talking to a friend? You can't hear the difference in conversation, but that pesky space between any and time is quite visible in writing. Keep reading to learn when to use anytime vs. any time, and why the two are different.

compare any time versus anytime compare any time versus anytime
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Any Time Means "An Unspecified Time"

Any time is a noun phrase with an adjective (any) and a noun (time). If you can replace any time with the word noon, you're using it correctly.

Like all nouns and noun phrases, any time can appear in the sentence as a subject, direct object, or object of the preposition.

"Any Time" as an Adverbial Phrase

You're most likely to see any time in the phrase at any time. Whenever you see this phrase, you need to spell any time as two words, since it's acting as the object of a preposition.

At any time typically functions as an adverbial phrase that modifies the verb in the sentence.

  • The guests may arrive at any time.
  • We can study at any time this week.
  • My boss could walk in at any time.

"Any Time" as a Noun Phrase

When any time functions as the subject of a sentence, any modifies time. 

  • Any time is a good time for coffee.
  • Any time would be fine for a meeting.
  • Any time sounds convenient to me.

You'll also see any time as the direct object in a sentence as it receives the action from the verb.

  • Charles didn't have any time to edit his essay.
  • Did Victor spend any time in New York?
  • She tries not to waste any time during the workday.

Anytime Means "Whenever"

Anytime typically means "whenever" or "sometime" in more casual or conversational writing. If you can replace anytime with either of those words, you're using it correctly.

"Anytime" as an Adverb

As an adverb, anytime replaces the adverbial phrase at any time. You can either say anytime or at any time; you can't say at anytime (since adverbs don't follow prepositions). 

  • I'm so happy anytime I'm with you.
  • My dog wags his tail anytime I say his name.
  • We can watch sports anytime we want with the new streaming service.
  • Anytime you need me, I'll be there.

When Shouldn't You Use Anytime?

There are specific times when you can't use anytime, such as:

  • after a preposition (such as at)
  • when you're talking about an amount of time
  • when you're talking about a specific time
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Examples of Anytime vs. Any Time

Any time is almost always correct, but anytime is only sometimes correct. While you can use at any time or anytime to modify a verb, only any time functions as a noun phrase (direct object or subject) and anytime is incorrect. Anytime also can't follow at.

  • The baby is due at anytime. (incorrect)
  • The baby is due at any time. (correct)
  • The baby is due anytime. (correct)
  • Do you have anytime to help me this week? (incorrect)
  • Do you have any time to help me this week? (correct)
  • Is there anytime that works better? (incorrect)
  • Is there any time that works better? (correct)
  • Kyle can meet you at anytime tomorrow. (incorrect)
  • Kyle can meet you at any time tomorrow. (correct)
  • Kyle can meet you anytime tomorrow. (correct)

Can You Hyphenate "Any Time"?

When in doubt, some people try to cover their bases with a hyphenated version of the phrase (any-time). However, this attempt is always incorrect. There's never a time when a hyphenated version of any time is the right way to go.

Tips for Remembering the Difference

If you can't remember the proper parts of speech, try this trick. Substitute the adverb and subordinating conjunction whenever for anytime. If it works (as in "Whenever you need me, I'll be there"), you can use anytime. If not (as in "The baby is due at whenever"), stick with the two-word version.