Know When to Use “Any Time” vs. “Anytime”

Correct grammar is always important. Whether you’re writing SEO content, living your dream of authoring a novel, or simply typing an email for work or school, you want to make sure that you use the correct words and punctuation. However, this is sometimes easier said than done!

The English language can be confusing. One common challenge that even native English speakers encounter is when to use “anytime” versus “any time.” Although these words might seem interchangeable, there are several differences between them—and it’s important to understand these distinctions so that you use each term correctly.

The Difference between “Any Time” and “Anytime”

In all types of written communication, both “any time” and “anytime” can mean “whenever.” These words convey that you aren’t constrained to a particular date or schedule—your availability is wide open. In many cases, either choice is correct in terms of grammar.  However, there are a couple of important differences between the two terms that you should familiarize yourself with.

Some of the differences between “any time” and “anytime” might seem minute, but you need to get to know when the single-word or double-word version is accurate. In some cases, using “anytime” simply is not correct.

For instance, if you’re creating a blog or a landing page for your company’s website, your customers will take notice when you use proper grammar. They’ll respect you much more as a thought leader in your field if you take the time to respect the language! Similarly, if you’re writing a novel or an academic essay, you want to impress your audience by demonstrating your firm grasp on proper grammar. Any misspellings or typos can decrease your credibility. So take the time to learn the right way to use similar phrases such as “any time” and “anytime.”

Remember: whatever you’re writing, you want to use the correct vocabulary so your readers know that you’re legit and professional and that you pay attention to detail. The more time and energy you put into ensuring that you’re using correct grammar, the more your readers will respect you. This is important in many settings.

What is the difference between “any time” and “anytime”?

One of the main differences between “any time” and “anytime” is formality. Basically, the two-word version is a more formal style than “anytime.” If you’re writing an academic essay or a business-related document like a white paper, you probably want to stick to more formal language. However, if you’re writing a novel or a friendly text or email, you can probably get away with the more informal spelling.

Perhaps the most important difference between these two phrases is that they cannot always be used interchangeably. In some sentences, the way you use the term dictates whether the one- or two-word option is accurate. For example, the two-word version “any time” is what’s called a noun phrase, which basically means that it can act as the subject or object of a sentence. Conversely, “anytime” is an adverb, so it modifies the sentence’s meaning.

Here are a couple of examples of when to use each spelling:

  • I’m always here to help, so call me anytime. In this case, you are using “anytime” as a response to someone who might need assistance but doesn’t know when. By using the adverb “anytime,” you are modifying the sentence’s verb by adding the note that you are always available.
  • I’m always here to help, so call me at any time. By adding that little word “at”—a preposition—you are making “any time” the subject of the sentence.

Knowing when to use each version can be difficult. Just do some research on the proper instances to use each one so that you can clearly and effectively communicate with your audience while using correct grammar.

When to Use “Any Time”

So when do you use the two-word noun phrase “any time” as opposed to the one-word adverb “anytime”? There are a few different instances in which they cannot be used interchangeably. The first step in understanding is to think back to your elementary school days when you learned about sentence structures, nouns, adverbs, and prepositions.

When should I use “any time”?

The two-word version “any time” should be used in two main scenarios. The first is when you add a preposition to your sentence, such as at, as, or but. Prepositions basically create a relationship between a sentence’s subject and the rest of the sentence. Instead of saying “I sat the table,” you would say “I sat at the table.” In this case, “at” is the preposition—and a necessary addition to the sentence!

Prepositions should be in your sentence right before a noun—including a noun phrase like “any time.” So if you’re including a preposition in whatever you’re writing, always use the “any time” version.

A second scenario in which you should always use “any time” instead of the single word “anytime” spelling is if you’re referring to an actual or specific amount of time. This is because you’re designating the time period as a noun in your sentence, so you need to use the noun phrase “any time.” To help you better understand, try changing out the phrase “any time” for a specific time:

  • I can walk the dog at five o’clock.
  • I can walk the dog at any time.

Since “any time” in this sentence refers to a specific—albeit unidentified—amount of time, it should be used as two words. Additionally, since you’re using the preposition “at,” it’s a no-brainer to use the two-word version!

If you’re ever in doubt about whether you should use the one-word version or two-word version, just default to the two-word “any time” spelling. It’s more formal, so it’s likely correct even in examples where the single-word spelling would also suffice.

What are some examples of “any time” used in a sentence?

When you’re familiarizing yourself with when to use the one- or two-word version, it’s often helpful to look at some examples of proper use. Here are a few sentences in which “any time” is used properly:

  • Do you have any time to get together this week?
  • I’m so busy that I don’t have any time to do my laundry!
  • Any time I’m at a baseball game, I want to eat a hot dog.

In each of these examples, the writer is discussing a specific amount of time. Therefore, the two-word version is appropriate instead of the single-word “anytime” spelling.

When to Use “Anytime”

Now that you’ve learned about the more formal “any time,” it’s time to educate yourself on the more colloquial, familiar one-word version. As an adverb, the “anytime” spelling can change the meaning of the rest of your sentence. This can easily get confusing. However, even if you’re not a professional editor, you can learn the right time to use each version!

When should I use “anytime”?

Remember: you should use “any time” along with a preposition. When you’re not using a preposition, “anytime” is often your best option to communicate an open time period.

One of the most helpful tips you can use to determine when it’s OK to use “anytime” is to substitute it with another adverb. If the sentence works well with a different adverb, chances are you’re using “anytime” correctly! For example, swap out “anytime” with an adverb like “immediately,” “whenever,” or “afterward.” Here’s one sentence that substitutes these four different adverbs but still all make sense:

  • Call me anytime.
  • Call me immediately.
  • Call me whenever.
  • Call me afterward.

In these examples, “anytime” here does not refer to a specific time period. It’s completely open. This is just one example of when you can correctly use the single word “anytime” spelling in a sentence.

What are some examples of “anytime” used in a sentence?

You can use “anytime” when you’re referring to a vague time period. And, of course, when you’re not using a preposition before it! Here are a few examples of when using “anytime” in a sentence is grammatically correct:

  • My flight was delayed, but it should depart anytime now.
  • I’d love to see you anytime!
  • Anytime I see my neighbors, they’re fussing over their garden.

These sentences do not discuss or designate a specific time or a particular amount of time. It’s left completely open for interpretation. These are informal sentences, so “anytime” is a better choice here than the more formal and specific “any time.” It’s always important to use proper grammar, so make sure you take the time to use “anytime” and “any time” correctly.

Why Is It Always Important to Use Proper Grammar?

You’re already aware that using words improperly could lead to you losing credibility as a thought leader. Whatever you’re writing, you are representing yourself through your words. Your readers will respect you much more as a subject matter expert if you show them that you’ve taken the time to use the correct words and edit for any misspellings or typos.

Additionally, it’s always important to use proper grammar so that you can clearly communicate with your audience. Misusing words or punctuation can cause confusion and even prevent your readers from understanding what you’re trying to say.

You might be familiar with this famous example of comma usage:

  • “Let’s eat, Grandma.”
  • “Let’s eat Grandma.”

The comma completely changes the meaning of the sentence, so it’s vital that the sentence uses the correct punctuation. This is the same with different but similar words like “anytime” and “any time.” Regardless of whether you’re writing something for your employer, professor, or friend, you’ll want to make sure that you always use proper grammar so your message is received clearly.

How can I make sure that I always use proper grammar?

You now understand why it’s important to always use proper grammar. That’s great! However, language is always evolving, so that English textbook that you learned from in fifth grade is probably obsolete. So how do you make sure you’re using the right words and punctuation in your current daily life?

The first method is pretty simple: read, read, read! The more you read, the more you’ll learn about and expose yourself to proper grammar. The best sources are academic or scholarly writings, but many novels are also well written. Try to stick to famous authors who have earned a reputation for having a firm grasp of language. If you’re reading a translated novel, make sure it was translated by a professional translator and publishing company. Typically, the more famous and reputable the author and publisher are, the more confidence you can have that the grammar is correct.

A second method to make sure you always use proper grammar is to use online resources. Read articles on trusted, renowned websites about any grammatical challenges that you’re facing. Here are a few topics that you can search for online in addition to the “any time” versus “anytime” conundrum:

  • Its versus it’s
  • They’re versus their versus there
  • When to use a comma, semicolon, or colon
  • How to avoid run-on sentences or sentence fragments

These are just a few examples. Keep in mind that you are unique—and so are the grammatical challenges that you face! There are plenty of reliable resources that you can find online that can teach you the correct usage of words and punctuation. Once you’ve solidified your foundational knowledge of the English language, you’ll be on the right track toward using proper grammar in all your writing!

Enlist the Professionals to Help You Use “Any Time” and “Anytime” Correctly!

As one of the more challenging rules in the English language, it’s difficult for many writers to become comfortable with when to use “any time” versus “anytime.” Fortunately, Elite Editing is here to help!

We provide professional writing, editing, and proofreading services for all of your business and professional needs. Visit our website to find out how we can make your content Elite!

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