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

Any Time Is Always Correct

If you're struggling to decide whether you should use anytime or any time, you can't go wrong with the two-word phrase. It's the original form of the phrase and can be used as both a noun phrase and an adverb. It's always correct, no matter how you use it.

Any Time as a Noun Phrase

When used as an adjective + noun, also known as a noun phrase, "any time" means "any amount of time." It simply means what it says: any modifies time. Some examples of "any time" as a noun phrase are:

  • 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.

You may also use "any time" as a noun phrase that follows a preposition (usually at). For example:

  • 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 an Adverb

"Any time" as an adverb modifies the verb or adjective before it. It's actually still a noun phrase in this case, but it's functioning as an adjective. For example:

  • Let's talk more about this any time you're free.
  • I'm available any time after 3:00 today.
  • The paper is due any time before Friday.

Anytime Is Sometimes Correct

Anytime typically means "whenever" or "at any time." It's used in more casual or conversational writing. You can use anytime as an adverb, but not in the same way you use "any time" as an adverb. Writers also use anytime as a subordinating conjunction to link a dependent clause to an independent clause.

Anytime as an Adverb

Unlike any time, you can't use anytime after a preposition. You can use it after a verb or object of a verb, such as in the following sentences:

  • 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 as a Subordinating Conjunction

You may also see anytime used as a subordinating conjunction, often at the beginning of a sentence. Keep in mind that you can also use any time in this way and it would be correct as well.

Check out these examples:

  • Anytime you need me, I'll be there.
  • Joshua thought of her anytime he saw roses.
  • Maria gets a headache anytime she's out in the sun too long.

When Is Anytime Incorrect?

Just because you can use any time in place of anytime doesn't mean that they're interchangeable. 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

Unlike "any time," anytime is not a noun phrase and can't function in the same way. That's why it can't follow prepositions: adverbs can't be the objects of prepositions.

Examples of Anytime vs. Any Time

Take a look at these sentences for examples of when anytime would be grammatically incorrect. As you can see, it doesn't take much to fix these sentences. Just one space between the words is enough to correct them!

  • The baby is due at anytime. (incorrect)
  • The baby is due at any time. (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)

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.

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.

The Final Word

So, is "call me anytime" or "call me any time" correct? The answer is: both are correct, but it depends on what you're writing. If you're writing an email or text, you can use anytime as an adverb. But in a formal paper or publication, avoid the casual expression and go for any time. Clear up more misunderstandings with these tips on anymore vs. any more. You can also solve the mystery that separates alright and all right (it's simpler than you think).

Post a comment