Setup vs. Set Up and Other Grammar Tips

There are a few grammar gaffes I’ve been seeing lately that made me want to do a post to highlight them. They’re easy to mix up and happen regularly, so let’s shed some light on the usage of one and two-word variants of certain common items in our language. In each case I’ll explain what each version of the word means and how you would commonly see it written correctly.

Setup vs. set up

Wrong: “I just got my new desk all setup!”

Setup is a noun, not an action. You might say “I’ll go find the setup disk” or “That’s a nice setup you have here.” In the first example setup is the name or function of the disk, whereas in the second example setup refers to the entirety of the arrangement of the room/desk, whatever. The two-word form is where action comes in.

If you’re going to set up a printer, for example, it’s two words. You may have set up your room to create a nice looking setup, but they are not the same thing.

Anytime vs. any time

Anytime refers to a common thing or something that can be used/experienced whenever — at any time. Using ‘any time’ as two words modifies the word time in the sentence. You might say “Oreo cookies are a great anytime snack,” indicating that they’re always a good choice. Casually speaking, some grammarians say you can use “You can come over anytime,” informally, but in my opinion it bears too much similarity to setup and other examples and should be used as two words in that context.

One situation where you’d definitely use two words is asking someone “Do you have any time today to go over that project?” In this sentence it modifies time and could be substituted with “much time” or a variety of other words.

For this one, when in doubt, use two words.

Everyday vs. every day

Same idea as setup. Everyday written as one word denotes something that happens as a common occurrence — it’s an adjective. You might say “Don’t wear your everyday clothes to a wedding!” In this case you’re describing a type of clothing as something a person would wear regularly, i.e. not for a special occasion. You might also say eating breakfast is an everyday activity. You may not literally eat breakfast every day, but it’s a common thing that all people understand as something that happens regularly, as opposed to running a marathon which is not an experience all people can relate to.

If you’re going to say something like “James came over to visit every day last week,” though, you’d use two words. In this case, you’re actually quantifying the days and indicating that James visited during all of them.

Anyway vs. any way

Anyway written as one word is another way of saying in any case. It would be uses in sentences like “It was raining today, but Timmy went outside anyway.” Or you might say that “Hawaii is expensive to visit, but many people enjoy vacationing there anyway.” In both examples the subject is choosing to do something in any case, regardless of the circumstance.

You’d use the two-word version as another way of saying in any manner. An example would be a sentence such as “You are free to complete the job any way you see fit.”

Everyone vs. every one

Everyone as one word is interchangeable with everybody, and refers to all people in a given group. A sentence like “The new systems we’ve put in place will make the job easier for everyone,” is addressing the whole group. In this case, the new systems impact the group as a whole.

Written as two words, every one refers to each individual in a group. It’s interchangeable with each person. An example is a sentence like “I would like to thank every one of you for coming.” In this case, you’re thanking each person that came and not broadly addressing the group as one entity.

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There are plenty more examples, but these are a few that come to mind. Hope these are helpful for those who may have been wondering about how to use these.

One Response to Setup vs. Set Up and Other Grammar Tips

  1. Karen Winters October 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Thanks Brian for the tips! I do get some of these confused myself. Nice to know the proper usage of these! Great article and tips.

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