Do you play basketball everyday or every day? Does that make it an everyday activity for you — or is it an every day activity? It may seem there's only one little space between these words, but that's not the case when it comes to using them in a sentence. Learn when you should use every day vs. everyday and how the words are not interchangeable at all.
Every Day vs. Everyday: Difference Between Common Terms
Every Day: Noun and Adverbial Phrase
"Every day" is a phrase that means one thing: "each day." The adjective every modifies the noun day. It can be used as a noun phrase when it functions as a noun, such as:
- Every day is better than the last one.
- Every day offers new opportunities.
- Every day shows us the possibility of life.
However, every day is more commonly used as an adverbial phrase. It modifies the verb to answer the question "when" or "how often." For example:
- I order the same spinach salad every day. (When do you order it?)
- Tammy gets to work early every day. (When does she get to work early?)
- Our team has to meet every day this week to finish the project. (How often does our team have to meet?)
- Every day, I write my wife an email to tell her that I love her. (How often do you write an email?)
Because adverbial phrases describe verbs, it's easy to mistake them for adjectival phrases. But like adjectives, adjectival phrases describe nouns, not verbs. That's where everyday comes in.
Everyday is a compound word that functions as an adjective. You use it before a noun, not after, to describe something that is regular or common. That's the easiest way to tell the difference between everyday and every day. Some examples include:
- These are my everyday shoes. (modifies the noun shoes)
- Helping people is an everyday task for emergency room doctors. (modifies the noun task)
- Taking a vacation is a great way to escape everyday life. (modifies the noun life)
- Becky's everyday makeup includes a light eyeshadow and lip tint. (modifies the noun makeup).
When combined with a noun, everyday can become the adjective in a noun phrase (such as everyday shoes). But by itself, everyday can only function as an adjective.
Can You Tell the Difference Between Every Day and Everyday?
It's tough to make the right decision when you're trying to choose every day vs. everyday. However, that space makes a big difference in both writing and speech; when you say every day, it sounds just a bit slower than when you say everyday.
Here are some correct and incorrect examples of each word in context. Check out when each word is used appropriately and how rephrasing the sentence can make everyday or every day correct as well.
- Alicia goes to the gym everyday. (incorrect)
- Alicia goes to the gym every day. (correct)
- Going to the gym is part of Alicia's everyday routine. (correct)
- My neighbor playing his music too loud is an every day occurrence. (incorrect)
- My neighbor playing his music too loud is an everyday occurrence. (correct)
- My neighbor plays his music too loud every day. (correct)
- Golden retrievers are very active and should be walked everyday. (incorrect)
- Golden retrievers are very active and should be walked every day. (correct)
- Golden retrievers are very active and need an everyday walk. (correct)
- Everyday presents a new challenge at Laura's new job. (incorrect)
- Every day presents a new challenge at Laura's new job. (correct)
- Laura faces everyday challenges at her new job. (correct)
One last hint to tell these words apart: if you can replace the word with regular, use everyday. If you can replace it with each day, use every day. When all else fails, say the sentence out loud. Your speech will automatically pause when saying every day, and it likely won't if the correct answer is everyday.
More Noun Phrase and Adjective Confusion
It's important to know when to use every day vs. everyday, just in case your spellcheck doesn't catch the error. Understanding how to use noun phrases and adverbial phrases is an important part of any grammar lesson. For more tips to help your spelling, check out the difference between anymore vs. any more. Another similar debate is the use of apart vs. a part. You can also learn whether you should offer help anytime or any time.