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DictionaryBelieve it or not, a space between two words can make a huge difference! No, I’m not talking about life and death issues, but deciding whether or not to use a space can make a real difference in the meaning of what you are trying to communicate.

Here is one real-life example of what I mean: A) The boys were playing along while in the snow.  B) The boys were playing a long while in the snow.

In this case, the meaning of the first sentence is that the boys were going along with whatever was happening and the activity happened to be in the snow. The meaning of the second sentence is that the boys were out playing in the snow for a considerable time. Just one little space –a blank –can change the meaning of a sentence!

In other cases of space or no space, you must choose the right one for the right situation. Here are some more real-life examples:

A) The suspect went into his house at 11 p.m.  B) The suspect went in to find his gun.

A) Sometime last night, the gas station was robbed.  B) That station had been targeted for quite some time.

A) There is always someone willing to help.  B) All ways to solve the problem will be accepted.

Then there are those words that are simply spelled wrong quite frequently. One that makes me see red is the misspelling of “nowadays” as “now days,” and that just doesn’t work! One that I have more tolerance for is “a lot” spelled as one word, “alot.” It is a common error, but still considered an error. Even auto-correct will catch that one.

A similar error is spelling “all right” as “alright.” But in this case, the one-word spelling remains in common and acceptable use. Figure that one out! The explanation in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) may shed a little light: “The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing.”

So there you have it! Those little spaces between some words are important. Be sure to pay attention to them when you proofread.

If you’d like to share similar examples, feel free to post them in a comment!