Simple Words Professionals Should Not Mix Up

Posted: April 9, 2013 by Courtney Iovanovich

Technology has changed the world. The first text message was sent over 20 years ago, and conversations were never the same. Now slang like: OMG, LOL and others are becoming part of our everyday language. These acronyms (and the symbol ♥) became so common, they were added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2011.

The use of “modern” language has become so common that even the simplest words can cause confusion. Although autocorrect can be wrong, we often rely on its fixes. In a world where a comma can cost $1 million (Canadian) dollars, it’s important to make sure a machine isn’t the only one proofreading your writing.

If the English language doesn’t seem as though it can get any more complex, hold on to your sets! The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) recently released guidelines for one-word / two-word forms.

Merrill Perlman, author at CJR simplifies the rules as “the one-word form is usually an adjective or adverb; the two-word form is usually a two-word phrase not modifying anything. But because that’s not always the case, it’s easier to just say the expression aloud.”

Here are some simple words that made our OMG list:

Alright / All right

Alright, I’ll go with you.

(Although commonly used, “alright” is not a word.)

All right, I’ll go with you.

(All right is used as an adverb.)

 Anyone / Any one

Anyone can write.

(Anyone is used as a pronoun for an indefinite reference.)

Any one of them is a good candidate.

(Any is used as an adjective and one as a noun.)

 Everyday / Every day

Don’t use the everyday plates for a wedding dinner.

(Everyday is used as an adjective.)

I work every day this week except Friday.

(Every is used as an adjective and day as a noun.)

Maybe / May be

Maybe you’re reading it wrong.

(Maybe is used as an adverb.)

It may be the wrong spelling.

(May be is used as a verb.)

 Overall / Over all

She made an overall good impression.

(Overall is used as an adjective.)

She was over all the grammar errors.

(Over is used as a preposition and all is the object of the preposition.)


There are a handful of other one-word / two-word forms that can confuse anybody! What are your one-word / two-word pet peeves?

Image credit: Funny Pictures Blog

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