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Great post, Stan! I hesitate myself often with negative “anymore” and stop to ponder whether I want the solid or open spelling. Positive anymore, on the other hand, has an informal ring but is well-established among all US speakers. The collocation “Seems like anymore” gets nearly 2 million Google hits. Seems like anymore anyone can use anymore this way.
If Word and iPad etc insist on ‘anymore’ where I would write separate words, then it has moreorless become standard, Ithink, moresthepity.
Orin: It’s no wonder these phrases’ spelling proves awkward even to native speakers, given their mixed and changing forms in different contexts. Positive anymore occurs in dialects around me, but I associate “Seems like anymore” with AmE especially.
Edward: It would appear so, though I happily ignore MS Word’s blue squiggles when they contradict my own grammatical preferences or those of the prose I’m editing.
Stan, You say that “everyday and every day may cause trouble, but the distinction, once learned, is straightforward”. This strongly suggests that there is a right and a wrong, and I would never dream of mixing them up, myself. But I think the distinction is being lost, and ‘everyday’ is becoming commonplace for both meanings. The line from a sofa advert “dfs: making everyday more comfortable”, plays on the distinction – at least I hope it does. But there are hundreds of corpus lines showing that the difference is disappearing, e.g. “Online shopping is available all day, everyday”. I took a sample of 500 occurrences of ‘everyday’ in ukWaC, and found that about 60 of these are used ‘wrongly’ – “You learn something everyday”; “I drive past there everyday” etc. – that’s 12%. The ukWaC corpus is some years old and I’d guess that the trend has been speeding up since, such that the two-word version ‘every day’ will eventually vanish. The question for an online dictionary, which CAN update a word whenever it likes, is when to give up on a distinction and go with the flow. This time has not yet come, of course for the ‘everyday’/’every day’ distinction, which is still alive and kicking. But for how long?
This is a new usage to me. Perhaps it’s spreading west in the US, but it doesn’t seem to have come east yet!
Gill, that’s surprising and very interesting. I wouldn’t have guessed the figure is so high, and it does seem to suggest the distinction’s days are numbered for many speakers. Whether the advertising slogan “dfs: making everyday more comfortable” is a pun or not, it will probably contribute a little to the trend!
Erin, thanks for reporting from east US. DARE says the usage is widespread, but I guess it’s not common in some areas.
I think it’s important to separate the spelling question (any more vs. anymore) clearly from the polarity question (negative vs. positive any more/anymore), though both originated in the U.S. For myself, although a Yank of the Yanks, I use neither, probably because I come from a linguistically conservative part of the country, the Northeast. (No, that does not make me half a Brit; just ask a real Brit.)
For me, the spelling anymore falsely suggests an indefinite pronoun pronounced with a stress on the first syllable, as in anything, anyone, anywhere etc., whereas anymore is in fact still stressed as two words even when written as one word, and is obviously an adverb rather than a pronoun. As for positive anymore, I can no more say it than I can say “Anybody doesn’t go there” rather than “Nobody goes there”, a different kind of polarity violation.
So when Orin says positive anymore is well established among all Americans, he is in error. I would guess that the anymore spelling will become the standard U.S. spelling eschewed by the rest of the Anglosphere when the old farts like me have died off, whereas the positive use will probably not take over even the whole U.S., though it may well spread outside it: it is still too alien to those of us who don’t use it.
John: Thanks, as always, for your insights. I see what you mean about the pronunciation of anymore, though the spelling doesn’t suggest that stress to me, for whatever reason. I agree that even if positive anymore continues to spread, it will be resisted by some speakers as too strange and counterintuitive.