There is plenty of confusion over whether you should use “anymore” or “any more”. Opinion is divided roughly into three camps:
- There is no such word as “anymore”. It is simply a misspelling.
- “Anymore” and “any more” are two ways of spelling the same thing, and the two have the same meaning.
- There is a useful difference in meaning between the two.
So which is it? Is there a right and a wrong?
First, let’s define a few words:
Any (adjective) – an, one, several, some of a thing.
Note: Chambers, Collins and Webster’s all agree on this. However, Chambers says that any can also be used as an adverb meaning: at, all, to an appreciable extent. For example:
- “Are you feeling any better?”
When I studied grammar at school (in the Dark Ages) we became familiar with the likes of noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, verb, and so on. That was pretty well the basics. I never remember coming across “determiner”, possibly because the type was not part of classical grammar. Be that as it may, I mention it here because modern theory (since the Dark Ages) reclassify some adjectives and pronouns as determiners. Any is one of them.
A determiner is a word that comes before a noun to show how the noun is being used. In this sense, a, the and every are also determiners.
More (adjective) – in greater quantity, amount or degree; additional or further; something of greater importance.
Note: I can’t find any dictionary that disagrees with this. Phew!
Any more (adverb) – anything, additional, further; any longer; still, nowadays. [Any more does not appear in Webster’s Dictionary, which is to suggest it is not used in the US. Interestingly, in the UK Collins adds to its definition for any more: [or especially US anymore].
Anymore (adverb) – any longer, nowadays, presently. (US dictionary definition)
So far, then, we can discount the first camp that anymore is a misspelling. But we can only partially agree with the second camp that says they mean the same thing: anymore is American English; any more is UK English, according to them.
The third camp
So is it as simple as that? Unfortunately, not, because both forms can be found in UK English, which means they cannot always mean the same thing. Our third camp takes this view. Consider this sentence where both forms are used:
- “I don’t buy books anymore because I don’t need any more books.”
Camp three says that anymore is an adverb meaning “nowadays” or “any longer”:
- “I don’t do that anymore.”
Anymore refers to time. Any more refers, not to time, but to quantity as in:
- “I don’t want any more pie.” (any more is an adverb plus adjective).
- “I don’t want any more.” (any more is an adjective plus noun).
Any more is also a determiner (as we have said, describing a noun):
- “Would you like any more reading material?”
- “There is hardly any more milk left in the fridge.”
Any more is also used in UK English as a compound adverb, thus:
- “I don’t visit my aunt any more.”
This last example is a better illustration of UK v US English. The US version of using the adverb is:
- “I don’t visit my aunt anymore.”
- “I don’t go climbing anymore.”
In conclusion, when referring to time, as in “at present” or “any longer”, for example, use the one word anymore. When you are thinking about numbers and quantities use the two-word spelling any more.
[PS Microsoft Word likes to flag both as a misspelling, which is to say, it can’t tell the difference!]
By Nigel Benetton, science fiction author of Red Moon Burning and The Wild Sands of Rotar
Last updated: Friday, 3rd April 2020