It’s no surprise that writers experience confusion between the terms anytime and any time.

In everyday speech, these two terms are interchangeable because they’re almost indistinguishable. However, in literary circles, they do have distinct meanings, and that’s certainly the case in academic writing, too.

The two terms, when used correctly, have different meanings and applications.

Sometimes people use anytime as an informal contraction of any time, but this is misleading and should be considered incorrect. When these two words are put together, they become a new word with a different meaning and usage.

Let’s explore the differences between anytime vs any time!

Anytime vs Any Time – The Key Differences

The difference between “anytime” and “any time” lies in their grammatical usage.

“Any time” is a noun phrase often used after the preposition “at” (e.g., Please call at any time) or by itself (e.g., Any time you choose for the appointment is fine) .

It signifies “any amount of time” and can be part of a prepositional phrase like “at any time,” meaning “whenever” . Additionally, it can function as the subject of a sentence where “any” modifies “time” (e.g., Any time is a good time for coffee), or as a direct object in a sentence (e.g., Any time would be fine for a meeting) .

On the other hand, “anytime” is used as an adverb and can replace or be replaced with phrases like “at any time” or “whenever” (e.g., Please call anytime or They won’t arrive anytime soon) .

It’s important to note that “anytime” cannot be used with a preposition like “at.” In cases where a preposition is involved, the two-word version “any time” is necessary (e.g., They could call at any time)

Anytime Is an Adverb that Means “At Any Time”

Anytime can be used in the same way as whenever. For example:

“Anytime is fine by me.”
“We can visit your family anytime.”
“The bar will open anytime now.”
“I can go running anytime I like.”

When in doubt, check your sentence by substituting at any time for anytime and seeing if it still makes sense. Note that at anytime is incorrect because at must be followed by a noun or noun phrase. This leads to the next point.

Any Time Is a Noun Phrase, Meaning “Any Amount of Time”

The adverb any is acting as a modifier to the noun time. For example:

“I cannot find any time to read.”
“The speaker will use any time left over to answer questions.”
“Can you spare any time to help me?”
“Is there any time left before my parking pass expires?”

This term simply describes an unspecified amount of time. The meaning of any time becomes clearer when compared to some time or no time.

Any time can also function as an adverb, with the addition of at, which is where the confusion between the two terms arises. The similarity doesn’t work both ways; anytime cannot function as a noun phrase. Here is an example of the two terms being used interchangeably (and correctly):

“We can do that anytime.”
“We can do that at any time.”

Any Time Is a Safer Choice Because It Is More Versatile

Now you know the difference between anytime vs any time.

In our opinion, anytime should only be used as an adverb. When in doubt, unpack anytime to at any time.

The contracted form is a relatively new word, only gaining common usage in the 1920s, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Anytime is therefore most often heard in speech and informal settings, making it a fine choice for fictional dialogue or similar colloquial use, but a poor choice for formal or academic text.