Easily Confused Words: Anyway vs. Any Way

Anyway and any way are easily confused for one another. One is a word, the other is a phrase. Both have the same spelling. The question is, when should there be a space between the two, and when is the word needed?

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Anyway (pronounced “eh-nee-weh”) is an adverb.

  • It indicates that the speaker will be doing something in any conditions, independent of advice, weather, warning, or other limitations. It indicates firm intention and resolution.
  • It is also is used to redirect a conversation back to the original point. A spearker got off on a tangent, or got interrupted, and he/she is trying to get back to what he/she was originally saying.

Any way (pronounced “ehnee” (pause) “weh”) is a noun phrase: way is the noun, any is an adjective. This phrase is typically used in discussing opportunities and possibilities, typically the speaker is seeking leniency, or mercy, for a error.

For example:

  • Is there any way you could forgive me for being late?
  • If I could make this up to you in any way, I would.

So in closing, “anyway” indicates determination to do something or tell a story, whereas “any way” indicates a need for help from, or a compromise with, someone else.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Aneirin was telling a story to his teammates when his Ennis came in. Ennis asked, “Sorry to interrupt, but could I talk to you for a minute, Aneirin?”

“Excuse me, guys,” said Aneirin.

As soon as they were out of earshot of the group, Ennis asked, “I was hoping I’d see you at the speech and debate tournament finals this afternoon.”

“Well I’ve soccer practice,” rebutted Aneirin, ” There’s a big game in a couple weeks.”

“Is there any way you could miss it this time?” implored Ennis. “I could use the moral support. Our opponent is the toughest team in the district.”

“Uh, I’ll try to figure something out, ” Aneirin said, and walked back to the crowd. “Anyway, guys, where was I? I can’t believe how ridiculous this girl was being.”


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