editing / grammar / write here write now / writing

EVERY DAY IS TWO WORDS

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The title of this post can mean many things, depending on the function of the words every day. When write is an intransitive verb and every day is an adverb synonymous to on a daily basis or even regularly, the sentence in the title field above is a valuable advice to writers. But write can be a transitive verb, with every day as its direct object, and the advice is just as valuable.

I like the phrase every day. It has urgency, constancy, and continuity. It’s a powerful subject—Every day is a miracle—and just as powerful as an adjective, hardly ever superfluous—This is my everyday reality.

Writers: Don’t let the billboards, the advertising pages, the karaoke/videoke/MTV subtitles, the Facebook updates, the Instagram captions, and the Twitter feeds confuse you about how to spell these all-important two words. As I wrote in the chapter “Every Day Is Two Words” of my book Write Here Write Now: Standing at Attention Before My Imaginary Style Dictator, “you can only make one word of them when you use the combination as an adjective synonymous to daily or commonplace or ordinary.”

Six years ago, exasperated that everyday had become such a dreadful, institutional mistake even among journalists and communication specialists, I wrote my staff a memo to save them from taking part in this confusion. The memo is simple. I headlined it “Every Day Is Two Words (Unless Used as an Adjective)” and here it goes:

Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words. Every day is two words.

(Sadly, the smart people at Zazzle.com, or the company that supplies them the poster above to sell, didn’t get the memo.)

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