Editing for Grammarphobes: One Word or Two?


Do you have those words that, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot remember if they are supposed to be one word or two? The ones that do not look right, even after spellchecker assures they have been typed correctly? Here are a few.

awhile versus a while

This one is tricky, in that awhile is an adverb, and a while is a noun phrase meaning “length of time.”

She plans to be in England awhile.

She plans to stay in England for a while.

breakup versus break up

Breakup is a noun meaning the dissolving of a relationship. Break up is the verb form.

The breakup hurt Missy more than she had thought.

Riot police could not break up the protests in the downtown streets.

cannot versus can not

Although technically both forms may be used, cannot is more accepted in modern language.

I cannot understand why the Packers won last night.


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