Not Sure If It’s One Word or Two?

by Barbara McNichol
Editor of Word Trippers

When you are proofreading your writing or a colleague’s work, chances are you question if a phrase should be two words versus one. For example, should you write “backyard” or “back yard”? Because no one rule covers this, it’s essential to look these up:

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  • rooflines (not roof lines)
  • safe-deposit box (not safe deposit box)
  • old-timers (not old timers)
  • carsick (not car sick)
  • safekeeping (not safe keeping)
  • autopilot (not auto pilot)
  • pocketknife (not pocket-knife)

To save you time checking a dictionary, you can turn to a helpful cheat sheet called One-Two List. No more guessing! Check this list first for an easy, fast reference on dozens of words.

Your Challenge

Take a moment to check if something should be one word or two. To make that task easier, send an email request with One-or-Two List in the subject line.

Today’s Word Tripper

Breath, breathe “Breath” (a noun) means the air you inhale and exhale; “breathe” (a verb) is the action of taking breaths. “The jogger had to breathe hard until he could catch his breath.”

When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at

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