One of the most common mistakes I see in my students’ (and many other people’s) writing, is confusion as to the use of “every day” and “everyday.”
As one word, “everyday” is an adjective, as in “He was your everyday Joe, just trying to get by,” or “He drove an everyday sedan, indistinguishable from the other beige cars in the lot.” It refers to something that is commonplace, normal, usual. “Everyday” is synonymous with words like “typical” or “average.”
As two words, “every” and “day,” the word “every” functions as a modifier for the word “day.” “Every day” as two words expresses the frequency with which something occurs, as in, “I eat breakfast every day.” In this case, “every day” is synonymous with “daily” or “each day.”
An example that uses both, albeit a bit redundant, would be: “I enjoy a simple, everyday cereal–Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes–for breakfast every day.”
As a rule of thumb, if you could correctly use “each day” or “daily” where you are thinking of employing “every day” or “everyday,” use “every day.” If you could correctly substitute “typical” or “common” where you plan to use “every day” or “everyday,” use “everyday.”
In case you’ve ever underestimated the importance of proofreading, don’t.
I recently found myself in the center seat on a full flight that couldn’t take off because of a typo.
It went something like this:
Pilot’s fuzzy voice announces over the cockpit speakers, “Ladies and gentleman, we have a full flight today. There are no empty seats, and it appears we will need to delay our takeoff just a bit because we are running over the weight limit.”
General rumble of dismayed passengers worried about missing connections (I include myself in the group of worriers) rises and falls in the cabin.
And we wait some more.
About twenty-five minutes pass.
Pilot’s voice over the cockpit speakers crackles, “Ladies and gentleman, we are investigating what appears to be a typo. We recently got new handbooks, and we believe this latest version contains a typo. We are looking into it to make sure we are following procedure before takeoff.”
Exclamations of amusement and disbelief rise and fall in the cabin.
And we wait some more.
Ten or fifteen minutes pass.
Pilot’s voice over the cockpit speakers relates the welcomed news, “Ladies and gentleman, it appears the issue was indeed only a typo. We will be taking off shortly. Thank you for your patience.”
Sighs of relief rise and fall in the cabin.
But I am still a little concerned.
You see, my 50-minute layover was a tight one before the typo-induced delay, and by the time the typo was identified and the confusion cleared up, our flight was taking off an hour later than scheduled.
I’ll spare you the details of the three-hour flight, which was uneventful, and skip to what was left of the layover:
We are running through the airport with carry-ons clunking against our thighs and backs. We are panting on the tram. We are racing up to our gate as the woman manning it says, “You’re lucky you got here. They’re closing the door now,” and picks up a phone to tell the operator on the other end of the bridge that we are here and not to close the door yet. We are jostling our way down the aisle of already-settled passengers, eyeballing us as if we are the reason they have not yet taken flight.
We make our flight, but our checked bags aren’t as fortunate.
And our car keys are tucked safely away in them.
We land in Richmond, where the car we cannot unlock, let alone start and drive home, is waiting in the south parking garage. We call my mother-in-law to make the 25-minute drive from our home, where she has been taking care of our dogs, to the airport–with our extra set of car keys in her purse. We drive two separate cars home, and have an excellent excuse to relax for the evening: We cannot unpack luggage that did not arrive, nor can we begin to wash and dry and fold the clothes packed in said luggage.
We wake up the next morning to find our bags kindly delivered, waiting in the shade on our back deck–and the typo-induced ordeal has finally come to close. At least for us. I don’t know what became of the passengers whose connecting flights had already taken off when we finally landed at our connecting airport.
The moral of the story? The next time you consider sending an e-mail, publishing a blog post (goodness help my hypocritical soul if you’ve found a typo in this one!), or turning in a paper before you’ve proofread it (multiple times), consider the chaos one little mistake could cause on the other end (not to mention your own, personal humiliation).