Compound words

Compound words

Compound words are two words that together have a new meaning. Sometimes compound words are just one word, but many times they are made up of two words. It's easy to confuse these compound words and accidentally combine them. Here are a few words that should be two words instead of one.

Incorrect: alot

Correct: a lot

Incorrect: nevermind

Correct: never mind


English has many compound words, which are words made up of two or more other words. Compound words can come in three forms:

  • one word (sunflower)
  • two words with a hyphen (high-rise)
  • two words (every day and good night)

It’s easy to confuse which compound words are one word or two. Some compound words have different meanings in the different forms, which makes it even more difficult to use to correct word. This article will cover a few examples of words that are incorrectly combined into one word.

Every Day vs. Everyday

This error is very common. People think these words are always combined into one word, but usually, the correct form is every day. Every day means something that happens every single day. If you aren’t sure if this is the correct form, try replacing it with each day. If it still makes sense, then you need to use every day. Everyday has a slightly different meaning. It means the ordinary or commonplace. If you can replace everyday with one of those words, you will use the one-word form.

A lot vs. Alot

Alot is not a word. The correct form is always a lot. There is a similar word, allot, but it means to divide and give out an amount of something.

All right vs. Alright

This one is tricky. Technically, all right is the proper use of the word. But alright was such a common spelling error that it is now generally accepted by grammarians.

Catch Up vs. Catchup

Catchup is not a word. As a verb, the correct form is catch up. As a noun, you can write it with a hyphen (playing catch-up).

Get Away vs. Getaway

Many compound words are written differently depending on whether they are being used as a noun or a verb. Getaway is correct if you are using the word as a noun (A weekend getaway) or an adjective (getaway car). As a verb, the correct phrase is get away.

This rule also applies to pick up/pickup and work out/workout.

All Together vs. Altogether

Both all together and altogether are correct compound words, but they have different meanings. All together means a group of people or things that are united (the family is all together). Altogether means wholly, completely, or overall (she is altogether lovely).