Friday, August 13, 2010

Can you read any more?

Or can't you read anymore?

This is a word that was formerly acceptable only as its split form, any more; however, it is now generally acceptable to use the combined form. It joins other such combinations as anyone, anything, anytime, anyway, and anywhere. However, there is an important distinction in which the separate form should be used. If referring to matters of quantity, the phrase should be two words. If one is full after a meal, the proper term would be, "I can't eat any more." If one is physically unable to eat, the phrase would be, "I can't eat anymore." The former refers to quantity, with the word "food" implied after "more," and "more" used as an adjective. In the latter, "anymore" is an adverb modifying the verb "eat."

Just to add a little confusion, anymore can have a regional meaning, specifically in the Midwest. I used it in speaking the other day and thoroughly confused the person I was speaking with. I can't remember the exact topic of the conversation, but a good example would be, "In Indiana, if you want to buy alcohol, it doesn't matter how old you look. You have to show your license anymore." In this case, it means "at the present time" or "nowadays." When I used it with my friend, they were very perplexed by what seemed to be a contradictory statement. They thought it would have made sense to have a negative in there: "You can't buy alcohol anymore unless you show your license." In that case, it would be using anymore as an adverb modifying buy. My usage was intended to show a time frame.

One of my sources says that such a usage "puzzles readers from other regions." I can testify to the truth of that! Other references state that it is not proper form in writing. As I thought about it, I don't believe it's anything that I use in writing. If I utilize that form, it is generally when speaking, which is when most colloquialisms and regional idioms are prone to "popping out."

Does anyone else here use anymore in that way? I know I'm not the only one. Here is a bevy of bathing beauties to prove it.

I rest my case.


Big Mark 243 said...

I have a question about a sentence I saw in an article on the AOL sign-in page. Here is the sentence:

Plus, the extended Carpio family -- aunts, uncles, grandparents -- is present often.

The 'is present often'... that does not seem right to me. Why isn't that phrase written '--are often present', or is THAT incorrect and indeed, it should be read as written.

Will be checking back for an explination. Thanks a lot!!


Lori said...

I have used it in that form when speaking. "Any more" and "anymore" are words I watch carefully when I write them, so that I'm sure to use the correct form.

Mark, my first thought on your question is that it would be correct as written because the subject, the noun "family", is a singular collective nown, so the verb "is" would need to be singular also. So if we were to take everything out of the sentence except the subject and verb, it would be "family is". However, collective nouns can be plural when we think of the individuals acting within them. So because of the way this sentence is written, with a list of the individual members of the family placed within em-dashes, it *might* be correct to use the verb "are". I will have to do a bit more research on this. If I were the proofreader of this sentence, though, my first instinct would be to leave it as it is.

I'll get back with you after I've checked with a few more sources/people.