Few distinctions in English are as confusing and subtle as the difference between everyday and every day. Not only is it tricky for new learners but native English speakers are also likely to use "everyday" incorrectly.

Everyday as a single word is an adjective (a descriptor) — it means ordinary or commonplace. Every day — two different words — means "each day."

Comparison chart

Every Day versus Everyday comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartEvery DayEveryday
Meaning Each day ordinary, commonplace, routinely used, typical
Example I exercise every day to stay physically fit. I watch this show every day He didn't spend much on everyday clothes but bought an expensive suit for special occasions.
Part of speech Determiner + noun Adjective

Examples

Here are some examples for using every day and everyday correctly:

Everyday Occurrence

Even after understanding this difference between the two words, one is likely to falter when using "everyday occurrence". After all, if it's something that occurs daily shouldn't you say "every day occurrence"? The answer is No.

An "everyday occurrence" — somewhat confusingly — does not necessarily mean it occurs every day. It only means means it's an ordinary, commonplace occurrence. It is not something unusual. Remember that everyday is an adjective. So it describes an attribute (ordinariness) of the occurrence.

If something occurs daily, you can say it "occurs every day" or that it is a daily occurrence. "Every day occurrence" is wrong usage. Since "every day" is an adverb, it cannot be used as an adjective to describe the occurrence.

Everyday Life

Another common usage of "everyday" is the phrase "everyday lives". Synonyms for that are "day-to-day lives", "daily lives" or "routine", and it refers to how people typically think and act in life on most days. Note that "every day life" is incorrect.

References

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"Everyday vs Every Day." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2016. < >