What’s the difference between everyday and every day?
Do you eat breakfast every day or everyday? The word everyday describes things that are commonplace or ordinary, and it also answers the question “what kind?” For example, in the sentence “Wear your everyday clothes,” the word everyday tells you what kind of clothing to wear.
The phrase every day indicates that something happens each day. It also answers the question “when?” In the sentence “He walks every day,” the phrase every day tells us when he walks. If you can substitute the phrase each day into the sentence, every day is the correct choice. For example, it would also be correct to say: “He walks each day.”
Everyday is an adjective
In the example “everyday clothes,” everyday describes the clothes (a noun). The clothes are ordinary. Similarly, an “everyday dinner” is a common dinner (like pizza!). A noun almost always follows the word everyday in a sentence. The only exception is if the noun has other adjectives that describe it. For example, in the sentence “She couldn’t find her everyday black shoes,” everyday comes before the adjective black, but both describe the noun shoes.
Every day is an adverbial phrase
On the other hand, every day is an adverbial phrase made up of the adjective every and the noun day. Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, but not nouns. In the sentence “The dog roams every day,” the phrase every day describes the verb roams . . . by saying when it happens.
What are some examples from literature?
An excellent example of the proper use of both everyday and every day can be found in the following quote from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: “They could not every day sit so grim and taciturn; and it was impossible, however ill-tempered they might be, that the universal scowl they wore was their everyday countenance.” In this example, every day tells when they sit, and is easily replaced by each day. Everyday describes the noun countenance (the way their faces regularly look).
In some cases, everyday and every day have very similar meanings. When this happens, how the word or phrase is used in a sentence is the only way to know what the author is trying to say. In 1984, George Orwell writes: “Reality only exerts its pressure through the needs of everyday life.” In this example, everyday means daily, the ordinary life that each person lives day to day. Everyday is the correct word to use because it describes the noun life.