Any more or Anymore

October 17, 2013

Fifty years ago, it was uncommon to see anymore written as a single word. Now it's fairly uncommon to see it as two. Perhaps people think of it as if it belonged to the group of compound words anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anything, and so on, but it doesn't really fit there. Those compounds are all possible answers to the questions who, how, where, and what. So are the words someone, somehow, somewhere, something, nowhere, nothing, everyone, everywhere, everything. You don't see words like somemore, nomore, or everymore in standard English—at least, not yet.
 
It makes some sense to write anymore as a single word when it is used as an adverb of time, as in "I don't go out anymore." It makes less sense when it refers to quantity, as in "He doesn't like opera anymore than she does," or "If I ate anymore turkey I'd pop." In those two sentences, any and more should be separate words, according to most usage authorities. The distinction shouldn't be too hard to grasp; we have no trouble keeping anyone and any one straight. ("Anyone can learn to waltz," but "At any one time, someone is waltzing somewhere.")
 
The one-word anymore is sometimes used in a positive sense: "Everybody has HDTV anymore," where it means "nowadays." This usage rubs some people the wrong way. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage says that it is neither substandard nor class-related, but regional. In formal writing, though, anymore (whether one word or two) is almost always preceded by a negative word, or else appears in a conditional, as in "If there are any more objections, tell me now."
 
When writing you can make your usage clear, but spoken aloud, separating the two is still a dilemma. Now, here's a hypothetical dilemma. Suppose you're a very careful writer. Perhaps you've acquired a reputation for your lambent style. You conscientiously observe the distinction between any more and anymore. One day, a journalist comes to interview you for an article in the Times Book Review. You casually say, "I don't intend to write any more fiction this year." When the article appears, you see that you've been quoted, "I don't intend to write anymore fiction this year." You're outraged! But what recourse do you have? Even if the interview was taped, it's probably not clear that you spoke "any more" as two separate words. Not even the best of writers have solved speech yet!

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