Using the wrong version of a compound phrase or word is a very common error. Compounds can be rather confusing, especially for those of you learning English as a second language. it is, however, extremely important to learn the differences between certain compounds, such as every day and everyday as these common expressions have different meanings.
Learning the differences will help you a great deal with your writing, improving clarity and fluency. so, let’s look at the most common and somewhat confusing compounds.
Every day is a two-word expression and is an adverb (an adverb modifies a verb or an adjective) and it shows how frequently something is done:
I travel by bus to work every day.
It rained every day on my holiday
Everyday is an adjective that is used to show that something is ordinary or commonplace. This word modifies a noun:
Hunger in the third world is an everyday problem for millions of people.
She wore an everyday dress to the christening.
A lot is a two-word phrase which means very much, a great deal. It’s an informal expression, so it is best to not use it in formal pieces of writing.
There is no such word as a lot, so it should never be used
Never mind / Nevermind
Never mind is a two-word term which means to request that something is disregarded and paid no attention to.
Never mind the boy on the stairs.
It is a far more common term than nevermind, which is an old-fashioned noun which means notice or attention and is used in a negative sense:
Pay no nevermind to the boy on the stairs.
Altogether / all together
All together means as a group or something happening at the same time.
They sang the song all together.
Altogether is an adverb which means wholly, entirely, totally and is often used to modify an adjective:
It’s an altogether modern approach to the problem of third world hunger.
These expressions can be particularly confusing. It’s actually best to use all right as alright is its non-standard version and should not be used in formal pieces of writing.
Is everything all right at school?
Usually, the two-word version of compound words is the verb form and the similar version is a noun or adjective.
Make up is a two-word verb expression and is the verb form:
Children make up such wonderful stories.
Makeup is both a noun and an adjective:
She wears makeup to school (noun)
He took a makeup exam at school last week. (adjective)
Please back up your files when using your computer. (verb)
You need to make backup files of your essays. (adjective)
Sarah always forgets to make a backup of her essays. (noun)
Please pick up your clothes and put them on the chair. (verb)
Stop flirting with me Your pickup lines are dreadful (adjective)
He own lots of pickup trucks. (noun)
We have to set up the experiment in the science lab. (verb)
There are no setup instructions to program the video. (adjective)
This setup will take hours to do (noun)
It was hard to wake up this morning. (verb)
I need a wake-up call tomorrow please. (adjective – note the hyphen used to connect the two words together)
She knows now to look after her health. having the ‘flu was a good wakeup.
Work out / Workout
I should work out every day in order to get fit. (verb)
When I join the gym, I will buy some new workout clothes. (adjectives)
The fitness trainer gave me a hard workout. (noun).