April 10, 2012

Anyway, Finish Your Homework Any Way You Want To

An interesting pair of misused words; a big thank-you to dictionary.com, where I get my definitions.

The word “anyway” (one word) is an adverb with two meanings: first, it can mean, in any case; anyhow; nonetheless; or regardless; as in, Whether you like it or not, I'm going anyway. It can also be used to continue or resume the thread of a story or account, as in Anyway, we finally found a plumber who could come right over.

The two-word phrase “any way” means “in any manner”. You might use it to say something like I know you’re a competent carpet layer. Finish the room any way you want to, so long as it looks good.

The letter combination “anyways” is often used in place of “anyway”, especially when used to resume a story, but do not be deceived: it is not a real word, and no matter how much people use it, it will never be correct grammar.

How to tell which one to use: If you can substitute the words “in the” for the word “any”, use the two word phrase. If “in the” doesn’t fit the sentence, use the single word “anyway”. Using the above examples, it doesn’t make sense to say, Whether you like it or not, I'm going in the way. It also doesn’t make sense if you say, In the way, we finally found a plumber who could come right over, so both of these sentences call for the single word. However, it does make sense to say, Finish the room in the way you want to, so long as it looks good, so you know to use the two word phrase. Never use the single word “anyways”.