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Every day vs. Everyday

Every day and everyday sound the same when they are spoken but their meanings are very different. In this article, you will learn when everyday people can use the words every day, daily.

3:53 min read
  Teri Lapping  —  Grammar Tips
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When do I use the words: “every day”?

Every day may not be good
But there is good in every day.”  Alice Morse Earle

The words every day describe the frequency of something. The word every is a determiner which specifies quantity; the word day is a noun. When these two words are used together, they become the adverbial phrase every day, which modifies a verb to add detail about when, how, how often, and to what extent. Every day means daily, day to day, each day, every single day. For example:

Learn something new every day. Did you know that smiling boosts your immune system? 

(In this sentence, every day modifies the verb learn, giving us information about “when” we should learn something new.)

The man walks his dog every day, whether it is raining or sunny. 

(Every day modifies the verb walks, giving us information about “when” the man walks the dog.)

Every day vs. Everyday

Now, you try one. In the following sentence, what verb does the adverbial phrase every day modify?

The sisters called each other on the phone every day

Correct! The verb called is modified by every day, giving us information about “when” the sisters called each other.

Can I use “each day” instead of “every day”?

These two phrases have different words but are usually close in meaning. However, at times, there are small differences in their meaning. 

In the following example, both sentences are grammatically correct, both are adverbial phrases that modify the verb, and both are interchangeable:  

They go to school every day.  
They go to school each day.

The two phrases become different in meaning when we use them with the adverbs nearly, practically, and almost. Let’s put one of these adverbs before the phrase every day in the following sentences:

They go to school nearly every day
They go to school almost every day. (These sentences are correct.)

But….when we replace every day with each day:

They go to school nearly each day.
They go to school almost each day. (These sentences would be not used.)

Now your turn. Can each day and every day be used interchangeably in the following two sentences?

The man visits his doctor almost every day.
The man visits his doctor almost each day.

The answer: No, they can not be interchanged. The second sentence is incorrect and should not be used. 

Can I use “daily” instead of “every day”?

At first glance, the adverb daily seems to have the same meaning as the adverbial phrase every day:

The gym is open every day except on Sundays.
The gym is open daily except on Sundays.

The eyedrops are to be used three times every day.
The eyedrops are to be used three times daily.

However, in another example, we can find small differences:

Put the drops in your eyes daily. (This means once per day.)
We open our computers every day. (This implies at least once per day.)

In addition, some people have differentiated between daily and every day by defining daily as a word used in commercial or official instances. And many people agree that the phrase, “on a daily basis” is wordy, redundant, and should not be used under any circumstances.

When do I use the word “everyday”?

“Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in
I am everyday people.”       

  -  Sly and the Family Stone

The word everyday is an adjective which usually describes or modifies a noun. It is a single word that means something common, normal, regular, used routinely, commonplace, or ordinary.

For example:

That meeting requires a special suit and pants, not your everyday work clothes.
That positive attitude typifies her everyday mood.
A cup of coffee in the morning is one of my everyday needs. 

What is our conclusion?

Although every day and everyday are often used interchangeably in writing, we have seen that this is a mistake: their meanings are altogether different. 

If you are confused, a quick trick to substitute the adjectiveregular” for the adjectiveeveryday”, or to substitute the adverbial phrase “each day” for “every day”. Speak the sentence out loud to hear how it sounds. Usually, you will be easily able to tell if the phrase is correct. 

But try not to make it an everyday practice - the differences between the two are not hard to learn. 

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