Is ‘anymore’ a word?

Recently I’ve started seeing the word ‘anymore’ written as one word instead of two. But I don’t think that’s correct in British English. Or is it?

The first time I noticed it, I assumed it was because the book I was reading was by an American author. Nonetheless, it grated. I was still pondering when I noticed it a second time – a few times, in fact – in the next book I read, this time by the British author Chris Cleave. Was it bad editing? Was I reading an American English edition? No, neither explanation made sense. And once I’d started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop seeing it – it seems to have been used in every book I’ve read since. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed it before!

Perhaps I’ve been wrong all this time. Unconvinced, I turned to my Two Massive Dictionaries. Oxford has it listed separately, saying it’s a “chiefly N. Amer. variation of any more” and Collins lists “any more, or esp US anymore“. That confirms my hunch that it’s a US English variant – so why are British authors using it? And how recently has this become the norm?

I googled, but was surprised not to see more debate. This English usage website is one of very few to mention it. Author Bob Cunningham says that the use of one word vs two is “disputed” and confirms that it’s a variant in British English, but he also suggests that some US English speakers use the two ways of spelling for different reasons:

The difference between the two meanings is illustrated in the sentence: “I don’t buy books anymore because I don’t need any more books.”

This makes sense, I suppose – and I would like there to be a good reason for using one over the other, as with ‘everyday’ and ‘every day’ – but… no, I’m sorry. It still looks really wrong to me.

Perhaps our language is just evolving to include ‘anymore’ as a word. After all, we use ‘anyone’ and ‘anyway’ without second thought. But if that’s the case, I’d expect there to be at least a tiny uproar about it; our language doesn’t tend to change without complaints and Americanisms don’t usually creep in unnoticed.

Or do they?

Where are the pedants? What’s going on here?

Comments 11

  • The phrase “any more” is idiomatic anyway (any way?) isn’t it? Take the phrase: I don’t like linguistics any more.

    You can’t replace “any” with an equivalent part of speech: I don’t like linguistics *every* more.

    And if you replace “more”, with say “less”, the meaning isn’t reversed: I don’t like linguistics any less.

    I’ve never thought about it before, but it’s one meaning masquerading as two words. Perhaps they’re better off fused together – it’s less confusing that way.

    …but then again there is “any how”, “any time”, “any place”. Conversely we have “anywhere” and “nowhere”. And “evermore” how does that fit in with “anymore”?

    My head’s starting to hurt, and I have coding to do (not sure why I find questions like this so fascinating – and distracting).

  • Where are the pedants? There are no pedants anymore…

  • Oh Editorial Girl

    Thank you for starting a teeny uproar. I’m a novelist. I write “any more” – because I’m British and drink tea and don’t mind rain and like warm beer and think that gun control is a Good Thing – and no one ever corrected me. But now, darn it, I send a perfectly good novel to a perfectly good publisher and the damn thing comes back with my any mores anymored. I feel dirty.

    Not just that. My British esses – realise, organise – get zedded too. Not so much as a by your leave. Not even a , “Hi, Harry, we’ve got a new policy, hope you don’t mind.”

    And you’re right to be miffed. Did we lose a war or something? Was this some dark treaty between Bush and Blair? And shouldn’t we protest? I suggest a quick naval raid on Chesapeake Bay. Or we steal the Lincoln Memorial. Keep it until they give us our any mores back again.

    Humph.

  • I am 41 years young and a pedant. When they make ‘uproar’ into a hideous verb, I will be uproaring. Harry, you have my sympathy.

    ‘Anymore’ seems to be one of a class of neologisms, all of which grate on me, other examples being ‘hometown’ and ‘backyard.’ Don’t even get me started on ‘setup’, ‘login’ and the like.

    Thank you both for fighting the good fight,

    Tom

  • I had this very debate yesterday with a colleague. Microsoft Excel squiggly-underlined my “any more”, wanting an “anymore” instead. And that’s despite being set for UK English, mind you!

    I firmly rejected Mr Gates’ suggestion.

    P.S. To my delight, when I type “anymore” in this post, it’s highlighted as a spelling mistake!

  • I am a pedant and proud! I am British. I was taught British spelling. I shall continue to use British spelling. The next thing you know is that we shall all be saying picsher and nucular. Well, I shall continue to scream and drum my heels when I hear that on my British news, and read it in my British books! And my realise will remain essed.

  • Idk.

    Chrome always corrects this for me so I change it. I guess it’s because there are various words, similar to ‘anymore’ that are written that way – anything, for example.

    Personally, I don’t like the way anymore looks on paper (or screen) and tend to try and correct myself.

  • I’m so glad that there’s a mini uproar going on here if nowhere else. Any more has always been two words and I don’t see why it shouldn’t continue to be two words. Yes, Americans like to write it as one word. Yes, there are other words like anyone, anywhere, anything, anyhow, anybody… but that shouldn’t mean that we turn any more into one word. It’d be a slippery into forming contractions from any words which commonly follow the word ‘any’. Anyplace, anytime, anycolour, anyfreetime, anysparechange, etc etc.

    the autocorrect on my (Samsung) phone seems to think that anyplace and anytime are single words too! Dear Lord what is the world coming to? Arewejustdispensingwithspacesaltogether?
    #hastagskilledthespacebar

  • Oh dear – I have just seen this on a trailer for Sherlock! It had me doubting myself, hence I arrived here. Surely the BBC should know better?!

  • ‘Anymore’ appears to have crept under the radar in a really sneaky way with many British writers now blithely using the fused form. It looks and sounds (to my eyes and ears) ugly despite there being similar conjoined forms such as ‘anywhere’ and ‘anything’. (And I twitch when I see the form ‘everyday’ used in a context where it should be ‘every day’.)

    How soon before the idiotic ‘alot’ becomes the standard form? Can we at least agree that such a bastard form is the result of stupidity? Then again stupidity can win out in democratic nations, as the recent election in the USA has sadly demonstrated. But just because a lot of people vote for it, doesn’t make it right.

    • Aargh! YES! Some years ago I was working for [a certain transport company] and they wanted to use the slogan “everyone, everywhere, everyday”. I was the only person who had a problem with it… you know that feeling when you’re a lone voice and you start to wonder whether you’re the mad one? They decided against it in the end. Possibly because they’d never seen me so angry…

      And don’t get me started on “alot”. Have you seen the “Hyperbole and a Half” post about alots? Turns out they’re quite cute really.

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