Sometimes it is not even a spelling difference that causes a word to change meaning. Take, by way of example, the confusion created by “everyday” and its look-alike cousin “every day.” The difference between every day and everyday is not so much what is there but rather what is not there: the space! Such seeming insignificance conceals an important difference that is all too often made by both native and non-native students. As it is, it is hard to know who is bothered more by this pair: the students making the mistake or the English teachers who have to correct it!
Fortunately, we are pleased to report that, despite its reputation for being one of the most confusing parts of English grammar, this is something you can clear up on your own in no time. After all, one word or two, though they are pronounced the same way (although with a small pause between the two words in every day), they do mean quite different things and every appear in different parts of the sentence!
What Does Everyday Mean?
Everyday (one word) is an adjective that means “routine, common, ordinary.” As an adjective, it appears before the noun it describes (in much the same way as the adjective “fast” comes before the noun “man” in the sentence “the fast man was hard to catch.”)
What Does Every Day Mean?
Every day (two words), meanwhile, is a combination of the adjective “every” and the noun “day“ and as a result has the same meaning as “each day.” Thus it usually appears at the end of a sentence to add emphasis. For example, “we study English every day” tells us not only who studies (we) but how often (every [each] day).
Every Day versus Everyday
Finally, to keep it straight, consider our example sentence: “it is an everyday occurrence that it occurs every day.” You can translate this as “it is a common occurrence that occurs each day” and if you do you will be well on your way to using them correctly (especially if you practice every day)!