A Follow-Up! “Anytime” and “Any Time”

We had a discussion over on FB about this sentence:

…Jump in anytime/any time you like.

“Anytime” means “an indefinite point in time” as in a moment in time.

…You can do that anytime.
…I can meet you anytime tomorrow.

“Any time” means “an indefinite period of time” as in a span of time.

…I don’t have any time today.
…She did not spend any time with us.

Over and above the straightforward definition, however, is the grammar going on in the sentence.

If this word is the subject of the sentence or the object of the preposition, it has to be two words because the grammar calls for a noun. And it doesn’t matter which of the two definitions would fit.

…There is not any time for that today.
…She did not commit to that at any time.

In our sentence above, “you like,” which is really “that you like,” is an adjective clause. An adjective clause has to modify a noun. The noun form is “any time,” two words.

So it has to be

…Jump in any time you like.

Happy punctuating!


Some Thoughts for “Sometime” and “Some Time”

“Sometime” is an indefinite POINT in time; “some time” is an indefinite PERIOD of time. If you are thinking of “1:15” or “2:30,” it is one word; if you are thinking of “seven hours” or “ten minutes,” it is two words.

…Give me a call sometime/some time next week.

Are you thinking of giving him a call at 3:30 or for 20 minutes? This is a point in time; so it is one word.

…I will spend some time with him tomorrow.

Are you thinking of spending 3:15 or 20 minutes? This is a period of time; so it is two words.

There are many other “hints” that people use.

If you can take it out completely, it is usually one word.

…I will see you sometime tomorrow.
…I will see you tomorrow.

If you can take out “some,” it is usually two words.

…I have some time later today.
…I have time later today.

Then there are grammar requirements. If it is the subject of the sentence or the object of the preposition, it is two words because the sentence calls for a noun.

…Some time is needed to consider this.
…There will be some time later today.

…I have not seen him in some time.
…She has been here for some time.

It is two words in “some time ago” and “some time back” because it is a noun.

More to come.

Happy punctuating!


“Who” versus “Whom”

Not a lot of people are really interested in this anymore, but here it is!

There are two reasons that people have trouble with who and whom.

The first reason is that one does not hear these used correctly. Have you heard the word whom used this week? this month? We have simply lost the correct use of these words.

Secondly, when the who/whom choice has to be made, the word itself is usually not in the “right” place in the sentence to allow your ear to help you; that is, the who/whom are generally used at the beginning of the unit they are part of. It is a question word; so it begins the sentence. It is a pronoun that introduces a clause; so it is at the beginning of the clause.

Who/Whom are you referring to?
(You are referring to — .)

Who/Whom does he intend to call?
(He does intend to call — .)

John is the one who/whom everyone expects will win the election.
(…everyone expects — will win the election)

The English rule says that one uses who when it is nominative case and whom when it is objective. However, that doesn’t always translate into the correct answer as many people do not understand all of the differences between nominative and objective.

So this is what I recommend if you want to begin to even think about using these correctly:

1. Turn the sentence/clause around so that it is in standard word order.
2. Put in he/she or him/her. Which one fits? If he/she fits, it is who; if him/her fits, it is whom.

This will work for many of the uses, and it works because your ear tells you which is correct. There are a few sophisticated uses that might cause you some trouble.

This is a start. If you want some exercises to do, let me know. If you want more information, let me know.

Happy punctuating!


The Compound Sentence

I am going to start this topic today and will keep coming back to it over the next weeks. The question is what to do with an element that begins a second sentence after an and or but (or, nor).

One of the basic reasons to have punctuation is to sort out the structure of the sentence.

Cardinal Rule No. 1: When two sentences are linked by a coordinate conjunction (and, but, or, nor), there is a comma — or some punctuation — before that conjunction — end of story. Though there is a notation that the comma MAY be left out when the two sentences are short, that is a MAY rule, not a “You have to” rule.

The element that comes at the beginning of the second clause often causes a problem. There are so very many variables, and there are three choices: no commas at all, commas around it, or one comma after it.

In the case of a parenthetical, there are commas around it. When there are commas around it, the comma before the conjunction has to change to a semicolon so that it stands out. Marking the division of the two sentences is the most important mark of punctuation in the sentence.

…We had hired him in May, but he simply didn’t work out.
…We had hired him in May; but, in our opinion, he simply didn’t work out.
…We had hired him in May; but, well, he simply didn’t work out.

More to come on this topic.

Happy punctuating!


…don’t mean “will” will…

As long as I have been in this field, I have never been asked this question until recently — and it has come up at least ten times in the past six months! Weird.

What do we do with this?

…I don’t mean “will” will.
…He isn’t really “right” right.

The first word is in the category of a word that is being used “as a word”; that is, we are focusing on the meaning of the word, on its definition. It is the same as

…What do you mean by “electrically”?
…When you say “tied up,” what do you mean?

For this reason, the first use of the word is quoted.

Happy punctuating!


I am back!!

It has been a rough couple of months. I think things have settled down. So my blogs are back. Stay tuned right here for information on “All Things English.”

Just a quick one here: When transcribing email addresses and URL’s, I recommend that you transcribe them exactly as they look as an email address or a URL, that is, no caps and all jammed together with the dot and the word “com.”

Happy punctuating!