by Jacquelyn Landis
“We writers often have to contend with compound words that begin their life as two words only to eventually morph into one. “Backyard” is a good example. It originally was two words, “back yard,” used to describe the area behind a house. Sometime in the mid-1600s, it successfully made the transition to a single compound word.
Then there are other compounds that are in limbo, somewhere in the midst of the transition from two words to one. Consider “health care,” a topic on everyone’s mind these days. If you Google it, you’ll get about 63 million returns for the two-word compound but a whopping 129 million for the single word “healthcare.” That’s a good indicator that the single word will soon be standard. However, most style manuals still mandate the two-word version.
To complicate matters even further, we have words with separate meanings as a single-word compound or as two individual words. “Anyway” and “any way” are two that often…”