Help! Grammar Man!

grammar-man“Take it easy, Ma’am. Just tell me what happened.”

“I always put on my glasses before I brush my teeth–ever since I used my husband’s hemorrhoid cream by mistake. So I put on my glasses. I picked up the tube. I looked real close–you know, to be sure. And there it was! Right on the side of the tube! See for yourself, officer,” she handed over the evidence. (See photo.)oops

The officer was astounded at what he saw. “This is very serious, Ma’am. I’m afraid this is a job for … Grammar Man!”

The Case of Everyday Confusion

You see this mistake every day. And if you’re wired like Grammar Man, this everyday oops launches a migraine every time. People, please! The one word modifier everyday and the two-word phrase every day are not interchangeable. Say it with me: NOT interchangeable!

You see, it’s this simple: the one word everyday is an adjective while the two-word phrase every day is an adjective coupled with a noun, and together they usually work adverbially. Voila! You with me?

The adjective everyday means ordinary or commonplace. Listen to Sly and the Family Stone? They sang, “I am everyday people!” What kind of people? Everyday people. Regular. Ordinary. Like everyone else. Race, ethnicity, heritage, creed–can’t we all just get along? That’s his point. We’re all everyday people. Sly knows his grammar!

Buddy Holly? Not so much. Consider lyrics from the B-side of Peggy-Sue, a song unfortunately titled ‘Everyday’: Everyday, it’s gettin’ closer … Everyday it’s gettin’ faster … Everyday seems a little longer … When our great grandparents told our grandparents that the longhaired music of the 50s would corrupt them, now you see why! What Buddy meant to convey was that with each day, love was one day closer. So, then, let me help: Every day, it’s getting closer. Every day, it’s getting faster. Every day seems a little longer.

So, back to the Crest tube. Should you “Use everyday for whiter teeth” or “Use every day for whiter teeth”? Aha! This is why Grammar Man uses Colgate.

And here is a key, my friends: If you can substitute the phrase ‘each day’ in the sentence, than ‘every day’ needs to be the two-word phrase. Everyday–of the one word adjective variety–could be substituted for with ordinary or commonplace. Use these simple little tricks and you’ll never get this one wrong. And you might just spare Grammar Man a migraine.

What gets your grammar dander up?