Posted by: episystechpubs | June 26, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Any time or anytime?

Good morning,

Today I have a request to go over the terms any time versus anytime. Silly me, I thought this was going to be an easy one. 🙂

I thought this article summed it up the best, so I’m leaving it to the anonymous professionals at the Grammarist web site (www.grammarist.com) to explain. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph!

anytime vs. any time

Dictionaries list the one-word anytime as an adverb meaning at any time, and they don’t assign it any other functions. But the word is also frequently used as a subordinating conjunction, synonymous with whenever and usually meaning every time that.

Anytime is a new word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists 1926 as the year of its first known use (though earlier instances are easily found in historical Google searches). The Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t list it at all. Some sources say it is an Americanism, and while it’s true that the word is especially common in American publications, it is used throughout the English-speaking world.

There are a few situations in which any time is two words. When it is embedded in the adverbial phrase at any time, it’s two words because at must be followed by a noun or a noun phrase, and anytime doesn’t work as a noun. It’s also two words in constructions like I don’t have any time to spare because any is an adjective modifying the noun time, and the words together don’t directly modify anything.

If you have trouble with anytime and any time, the easy solution is to always make it two words. Garner’s Modern American Usage calls the newly formed contraction a casualism (and indeed many of the examples we find in news sources are in quoted speech), and the fact that it is not listed in the OED or in other British dictionaries shows that it has yet to gain full acceptance. No one questions any time.

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