One word or two?

The English language can make your head spin sometimes. Or is it some times? There are a lot of words that make writers go hmmm.

headspin

Is it onto or on to? Awhile or a while? Everyday or every dayMaybe these words are no brainers to you; or you may be fooling yourself.

If you can replace maybe with the word perhaps in your sentence, then it’s one word.

Back to the word sometimes. It means now and then.

  • Sometimes, I just want to throw up my hands and forget it all.

Sometime means some unspecified time.

  • Sometime maybe can get together and talk about life.

Some time means a while. You can replace some time with phrases such as a little while or a long time.

  • It took some time before he realized he was driving the wrong way.

How about onto versus on to?

Use on to when on acts as an adverb, and to acts as a preposition.

  • Estele grabbed on to his arm as if afraid she’d fall.
  • Harold logs on to his computer, hoping there’s free wi-fi.

Onto is a preposition meaning upon or on top of or in position of. If you can put the word up before on in the sentence and it makes sense, onto is correct.

  • He jumped onto the rock in the middle of the creek.

Onto is also used to mean in a state of awareness:

  • I’m onto your evil plans for world domination.

Everyday or every day?

Everyday is an adjective:

  • Irvin used his everyday dishes when his boss came over.

Every day:

  • Are you going to nag me every day about this?

Awhile or a while?

Use awhile as an adverb:

  • I hope you can stay awhile.

But if you add the preposition for or in, then while becomes a noun:

  • I hope you can stay for a while.
  • My father hadn’t been home in a while.

Then there’s a lot. That one is easy because there is no such thing as alot. It lives out there among the unicorns and leprechauns.

We could go on, but … If you see a word and you’ve got a funny feeling about it, look it up. Or you can contact me at I Spy Edits.

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