Anytime vs. Any Time: What’s the Difference?

-Do you have time to schedule a meeting this week?

-Yeah, anytime on Tuesday will work—or is it any time?

You may have found yourself in a similar dilemma such as this, questioning which use of anytime is correct. Are they both? Are anytime and any time used interchangeably?

It’s a good question. After all, you don’t even notice a difference between the two in speech. The variations are only separated by a space, so you can’t exactly pick up on any differences. This makes it all the more difficult when you go to type them out.

Today I want to discuss the differences between anytime vs. any time, explain their functions within a sentence, provide examples, and give you some tips to keep track of them.

When to Use Anytime (One Word)

anytime or any time grammar worksheetsAnytime, used as a single word, is an adverb, and it has a meaning similar to “whenever,” “at any time,” or “ on any occasion.” Here are a few examples,

  • We can talk anytime you want.
  • Anytime you need something, just call.
  • You can watch TV anytime; let’s go do something.
  • The train should be leaving anytime now.

A good trick to determine if anytime is appropriate to use is to substitute “at any time” into your sentence. If it still makes sense, anytime is correct choice. For example,

  • I can meet anytime on Saturday for lunch.
  • I can meet at any time on Saturday for lunch.

As you can see, the sentence still makes sense with the phrase “at any time” substituted, so we can safely use “anytime.”

When to Use Any Time (Two Words)

any time v anytimeAny time, used as two words, is the more versatile of the two constructions, so, if you are ever unsure about which variant is correct for your sentence, pick the two-word any time.

Any time is a noun phrase, and it has a meaning similar to “any amount of time.” Here are a few examples,

  • Do you have any time tomorrow to help me with my homework?
  • The conference was good, but I spent hardly any time sightseeing.
  • I don’t have any time to read now that I got this new job.
  • You never make any time for us.

Just like the one-word anytime, the two-word any time also functions adverbially, but it also has additional functions as a noun phrase.

Can Anytime and Any Time be Used Interchangeably?

Now, you’re probably thinking, if anytime and anytime can both function as adverbs, can they be used interchangeably?

The answer is no.

When writing, we need to be careful when using these words with prepositional phrases. Only any time (two words) can follow a prepositional phrase. For example,

  • I can hang out at any time tomorrow night. (CORRECT)
  • I can hang out at anytime tomorrow night. (WRONG)

The reason only any time will work in this sentence is because prepositions take objects, and only a noun or noun phrase can be the object of a preposition, not an adverb.

If we were to remove the preposition “at” in the above example, thereby removing the prepositional phrase, both would be acceptable since the noun phrase any time can be used adverbially.

  • I can hang out at any time tomorrow night. (CORRECT)
  • I can hang out anytime tomorrow night. (CORRECT)

Summary

There is a distinction to be made between any time vs. anytime and the two constructions cannot be used interchangeably.

Anytime functions as an adverb and means “any time whatsoever.”

Any time means “any particular amount of time.” It is a noun phrase that can function adverbially. This choice alone should appear after a preposition.

*Either choice is appropriate in the beginning example sentence.