An every day problem (Mistake #98)

I was in a grumpy mood to start with.

Just the day before I’d been here to buy myself a comfy pair of slippers – just £7 from Primark, if you care for the detail – only to find that things didn’t feel quite right when I got home and started to wear them. My left foot appeared to have grown. I puzzled over this mystery for hours, moving from living room to kitchen to office, first grimacing, then hobbling, until I thought to consult the figures embossed into the soles – to discover I’d come home with a size 8 left and a size 9 right.

Two consecutive days spent in a shopping centre should come with a special health warning, much like consecutive days of binge drinking.

I lost count of the number of apostrophe-free “mens” and “womens” departments I spotted in shops.

And then on the way to Primark for an exchange, I walked past this, in BHS’s window.

There is plenty to object to here, especially so when five of your toes still ache and you could be at home with your feet up in comfortable footwear writing letters of complaint to the head offices of bargain retailers.

Those ampersands upset me.

There’s no verb in the second sentence.

I’m even narked by the ellipsis, even though I use them inappropriately myself all the time …

And then there’s the ‘everyday’, which leads me to my point – much to your relief, I expect.

“Every day” – two words – is what the writer should have used here. The rule is a simple one. If you can comfortably substitute “every” with “each” you need two words – because “eachday” looks and is wrong, and so “everyday” would be wrong.

“Everyday” means “ordinary” or “common” or “mundane”.

Thank you for reading. Feet now happy and grumpiness eased.

Comments 16

  • Please can we have a photo of the slippers…? But. ahem, on a more serious note, that's a great tip about 'everyday' and 'every day' – I'll remember that!

  • Oh I was tempted, Helen. But after the hats of mistake 91, I feared slippers may have been the start of a slippery slope that could only terminate in dressing gowns and y-fronts, and frankly, my readers deserve better ….

  • But there is a verb in the second sentence. Isn't the word 'prepared' a verb? Also, every day or everyday, I don't see a problem with that. There is a perfect sentence from Steven Pinker that says:
    'Any competent copy editor can turn a passage that is turgid, opaque, and filled with grammatical errors into a passage that is turgid, opaque, and free of grammatical errors.'
    So, I don't really get annoyed by mistakes in grammar anymore. Life is too short and language changes anyway.

  • I guess you don't get annoyed as you're easy going and relaxed. I'm a grumpy middle-aged pedant who has grumpy middle-aged standards of pedantry to maintain … 🙂

  • I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs to get this sort of thing out of my system. It's menus that get me usually, with apostrophes glaring at me from the wrong places, but then absent in the right places.

    I know it's not that important in the grand scheme of things. I do tell myself this. Even so – argh.

    I have discovered that my phone's predictive text sometimes inserts apostrophes where I would never put them. The horror!

    Have a good week – you and your feet.

  • Ha, thanks! Lately I've been the kind of diner who doesn't scrutinise menus closely – been going with the flow of fellow diners, telling the waiter roughly what I fancy and taking it from there – so perhaps I've been inadvertently sparing myself an 'Argh!' or two …. ?

  • I agree, everyday cakes aren't as tempting as cakes every day.

  • *wishing there were a like facility on Blogger comments*

  • It amazes me how often companies will pay to have signs or leaflets made, but won't bother getting someone to check the spelling and grammar first.

  • Well – quite. But they probably think it doesn't much matter – which it probably doesn't to most people. Is it just writers, proofreaders, English teachers, literature lovers – anyone who cares deeply about words or makes their living from them – who occasionally get irked, I wonder … ?

  • Cringe, cringe and cringe! I cringe when I make mistakes too – because mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation annoy me and so I'm doubly annoyed when it's me making the mistakes, grrrr!

  • Haha – don't cringe, Julie! We all make them, we all learn from them … It's the way of the world. Celebrate your mistakes! 🙂

  • You were lucky you needed new slippers in October. Shops generally only stock slippers in the run up to Christmas (so women have something to buy their husbands). 😉

  • Would you believe they're actually TOO warm? (No, there is no end to my bellyaching … ) 🙂

  • I had a similat problem to your slipper one with shoes. I had tried a half size difference to get the best fit and came home with one of each. Phoning the store to let them know so that they wouldn't trying selling the remaining shoes I was told they could only be exchanged if they showed no sign of wear. I did get the exchange but did this mean they would have happily sold the other "pair" regardless?
    As for notices and the like my bugbear is newsreaders who place the emphasis on the wrong part of the sentence making it sound, for example, as if it is the judge who has gone to jail or the junction which has hit the car.

  • There must be an epidemic of 'divorced' footwear in our stores! I'm laughing at mental images of judges behind bars … I'll look out for strange emphases in print, from now on, and will report back if I spot any …

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