Home Grammar The Grammarphobia Weblog: At any time when Harry met Sally

The Grammarphobia Weblog: At any time when Harry met Sally

The Grammarphobia Weblog: At any time when Harry met Sally


Q: It appears to be getting increasingly more widespread currently, notably amongst youthful English audio system, to make use of “every time” rather than “when,” as on this instance: “At any time when I acquired up this morning, it was nonetheless darkish exterior.” Is that this a growing utilization? Is it legitimate?

A: You can use “when” or “every time” in that sentence, however the that means would change. “After I acquired up this morning, it was nonetheless darkish exterior” signifies that you just acquired up as soon as and it was darkish. “At any time when I acquired up this morning, it was nonetheless darkish exterior” suggests you bought up greater than as soon as and it was darkish every time.

In commonplace English, “when” here’s a conjunction that means “on the time that” one thing occurs or “as quickly as” one thing occurs, whereas “every time” is a conjunction that means “each time that” one thing occurs.

We must always word that “every time” can be used as an adverb that means “at no matter time” (as in “At about 6, or every time I acquired up this morning, it was nonetheless darkish exterior”).

However in varied English dialects, “every time” is usually used as a conjunction within the sense of plain previous “when.” Because the Dictionary of American Regional English explains, in elements of the US (the South, South Midland, and western Pennsylvania) in addition to in Scotland and Eire, “every time” is used dialectally “in contexts the place when can be anticipated.”

Utilized in reference to “a single punctual occasion,” the dictionary says, this dialectal “every time” means “on the identical time that” or “as quickly as” the occasion occurred.

DARE’s earliest American instance for the regional “every time” cites the “as quickly as” utilization: “The Pennsylvanians use the phrase every time to suggest ‘as quickly as.’ Thus will probably be mentioned that, ‘every time the carriage got here, the woman acquired in’ ” (“The Dialects of Our Nation,” by the Rev. N. C. Burt, Appletons’ Journal, November 1878).

The dictionary’s subsequent instance is from Virginia: “At any time when … As quickly as; ‘He’ll go every time he will get prepared’ ” (Phrase E-book of Virginia Folks-Speech, 1912, by Bennett Wooden Inexperienced).

And right here’s a quotation from the Nice Smoky Mountains of Tennessee: “At any time when … When. ‘What did they do with you every time you killed that man some two or three years in the past?’ ” (a 1939 discipline report within the Joseph Sargent Corridor Assortment within the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State College).

The linguists Michael B. Montgomery and John M. Kirk use the time period “punctual every time” in referring to “the subordinating conjunction every time, particularly when used for a onetime, momentary occasion.”

In a paper, “ ‘My Mom, At any time when She Handed Away, She Had Pneumonia’: The Historical past and Capabilities of At any time when,” the linguists cite “eighteenth-century Ulster migrants primarily of Scottish heritage because the most probably trans-Atlantic supply” of the utilization in America (Journal of English Linguistics, September 2001).

Montgomery (College of South Carolina) and Kirk (Queen’s College, Belfast) add that “the out there proof signifies remarkably little distinction in how every time is used at this time in Ulster English and Appalachian English, two traditionally associated varieties.”

The sentence used within the paper’s title is from a speaker in Tennessee; it was reported on the Mid-America Linguistics Convention on the College of Oklahoma in 1978.

Curiously, the utilization was first recorded in England, not Scotland or Northern Eire. The earliest quotation within the Oxford English Dictionary is from an English translation, revealed in London within the mid-Seventeenth century, of a French satirical novel:

“He gave me supper final evening when ever I got here inside his doorways” (The Comical Historical past of Francion, 1655, an nameless translation of Charles Sorel’s  L’Histoire Comique de Francion, 1623).

The subsequent OED instance, which we’ve expanded, is from a listing of Scotticisms: “We’ll go to our dinner every time the clock strikes two, when translated into English, means, We will go to dinner when the clock strikes two” (from a letter to The Month-to-month Journal; or British Register, London, Could 1, 1800).

As you possibly can see, using “every time” within the sense of “when” has been round for a whole bunch of years. We’ve seen no proof that it’s extra widespread now than prior to now, however it’s attainable that the regional utilization could also be heard extra broadly due to fashionable journey and communications.

[Note: This post was updated on Feb. 5, 2023.]

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