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Who Needs Any More Trouble with Anymore?

I don’t want to spend any more time on this than is necessary, but we should touch on any more and anymore. One word or two? That depends on what you want to communicate and if you’re using British or American English.

Standard American English recognizes two distinct meanings:

Any more (two words) is an adjective phrase meaning “any additional.”

  • I don’t want any more coffee.

Anymore is an adverb meaning “any longer” or “nowadays” or “still.” It can be used in a negative sense:

  • I don’t drink coffee anymore.

Or in a positive sense:

  • Do you carry coffee anymore in this store?

Another way of thinking of the distinction between the two, according to Bryan Garner (Modern American Usage), is to use anymore to indicate time and any more for quantity or degree. Both are at play in this example:

  • I don’t drink coffee anymore because I don’t need any more caffeine.

British English is more likely to identify anymore as an alternative spelling of any more without acknowledging a distinction in meaning.

One final note. When you follow with the word than, always use the two-word any more.

  • I don’t like paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee any more than you do.

Okay, I won’t bother you anymore or give you any more examples!

Are You Altogether All Together?

Are you ready for another set of words that are often confusing?

All ready and already are often wrongly used. One is an adjective phrase and one is an adverb. And the fact that I told you one is a phrase is a big hint.

All ready is the adjective phrase, meaning completely ready.

  • MaryLou was all ready for Christmas by December 15.

Already is an adverb meaning “prior to a specified or implied time,” or “as early as now.”

  • “Have you wrapped the gifts already?” Alan wailed. (so soon?)
  • “The gifts were already wrapped and put under the tree last week,” MaryLou explained.

A similar troublesome pair is all together and altogether. Here again, one is a phrase and the other a single adverb.

All together is the adverb phrase meaning “in a group” or “everyone.”

  • The neighbors went caroling all together.
  • MaryLou’s soprano led the group. “All together now. Let’s start with ‘Joy to the World.’”

Altogether is also an adverb that means “entirely” or “completely.”

  • They were altogether exhausted after walking through the snowdrifts and singing for an hour.

It can also mean “all included,” “all counted,” or “all told.”

  • There were twenty-two carolers altogether.

Or, “on the whole” or  “all things considered.”

  • Altogether, they considered the evening a success.

If you can substitute completely or all in for altogether, you’ve got the right word. But if you can rewrite the sentence using all together separately, then that’s the way to go.

Don’t Elicit Illicit Behavior

When Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood opened the 2013 Country Music Awards with a parody on Obamacare, one website posted:  “This isn’t the first time Paisley and Underwood have used a current controversy to illicit laughs and applause during a CMA opening.”

The musicians’ routine did just what they wanted it to do. It made people laugh. That is, it elicited or drew out the response they wanted. And there was nothing illicit or illegal about it. It was simply done to make people laugh over something that many people were already making fun of.

Like many other “confusables,” it’s common to see words that sound somewhat alike misused at every turn. Funny how such a small difference in spelling makes such a big difference in meaning.

  • Use elicit when you mean bring about, draw out, evoke, motivate.
  • Save illicit to describe something that is unlawful, criminal, or immoral. (If it helps, remember illicit starts with ill, so link that thought with ill advised.)

Speaking of immoral or illegal, do you know the difference between vice and vise?

  • Vice is a moral fault or failing, a bad habit. The vice squad is the department in law enforcement that is charged with enforcing laws against gambling, pornography, prostitution, and illegal drug and alcohol use. I often see writers talk about being “squeezed in a vice grip.” But that makes me conjure up the image of a team of cops closing in on a criminal who has drugs hidden in his pocket. A vice is the opposite of virtue–conforming to a certain standard of morality or a commendable quality or trait.
  • A vise is a tool that holds or grips things.

If your only vice is in misusing the word vice, consider yourself virtuous. But know that such misuse might elicit some snickering among those who know better!