Grandma's Tales

November 11, 2006

Grammar 14 – I’m doing it anyway.

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:57 pm

Friend Naveen Mahesh wonders why we use “anyway” so often.

Naveen, it’s not easy to understand the Indian mind. I’ll try, anyway.

“Anyway” can be used in two different ways – either as one word or as a phrase in two words. This splitting won’t give me a headache.

“Anyway” means in any case, nonetheless, regardless, anyhow, in any event.
It doesn’t matter whether you like this blog or not; I’m continuing with it anyway.

It can also be used to connect two parts of a story, to resume a thread.
Anyway, we found a mechanic to fix the car and were soon on our way. You can guess what happened before this, can’t you? Here are other examples.

  1. In any way or manner whatever: Get the job done anyway you can.
  2. In any case; at least: I don’t know if it was lost or stolen; anyway, it’s gone.
  3. Nevertheless; regardless: It was raining but they played the game anyway.

When you use the word in these contexts, please keep the two parts together. We can’t allow a marital discord here.

Now for the phrase “any way”. When you say, “in any way you can”, the meaning kind of becomes clear. Yes, it means ” in the manner you choose to do it”. Has your mom ever told you, “Do your hair any way you want to, but see that your clothes are clean?” Did your boss ever tell you “Do the job any way you choose to, but finish it fast!” Wow, that would be the day!

The question is, “How do I know what to use where? When should I use “anyway” as one word and when can I wield my axe?” Easy.

You don’t want anyone telling you what you should wear. You stamp your foot and say, “I’ll dress in the way I want!” and bang the door. Now, if you can substitute “any” for “in the”, your usage is right. “I’ll dress any way I want!” “I’ll draw it any way I want!”, “I’ll configure it any way I want!”

[Note: I’m not promoting militancy here.]

If you cannot make that substitution, your word should be “anyway”. She will do the job anyway. You can’t say, She will do the job in the way”, can you? “Any” answers “In what way”? (any way) “Any” is an adjective. “Anyway” is an adverb. Most often it answers the question “how”.

In the question, “Is there any way I can fix this?”, the substitution is not possible. Here, the word “any” stands for “a/one” and still is an adjective.

Now to Naveen’s question. Why do we use it so often?
Very early in life, we guys learn to adapt, adopt and adjust. We face hurdles all the time. We know things won’t get done easily. But we work our way around and get them done anyhow (anyway). We know the shortest line between two points (of work?) is not a straight one.

We do our work (in the?) any way we can. We triumph and enjoy life anyway.


  1. Aaaah, but you are behind the times. It
    isn’t ‘anyway’ anymore – it’s ‘anyways’.

    “Anyways, I had to go.”
    “What does it have to do with you, anyways?”
    “You can do this anyways you want.”

    Ok, perhaps the third one was a bit much, but still, it does happen. I’m not sure where that comes from – possibly the Americans? – but eavesdrop carefully at any coffee pub, and you’ll find it seep nonchalantly into the conversation. It’s true.

    And it has to be said dismissively, if you really want to capture the true flavour of the word. “Anyways, I told him to get a life.” Otherwise, you aren’t being cool enough.

    Mind you, it isn’t written ‘anyways’ – it’s written as it is pronounced: ‘anywayz’. Especially in emails, but we’ve discussed that just this evening! Possibly a spillover from SMS lingo?

    First time at your blog – great fun! I’ll certainly be back. I checked out the YouTube links, too – hilarious!


    Comment by Rahul — November 22, 2006 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Rahul,
    Thanks for dropping by. You’re absolutely on the dot about this “anywayz” menace. I tend to think it’s a truly Indian concoction and the meaning goes much beyond what the rather tame “anyway” can claim to convey. Your examples show that the word stands for both “anyway” and “any way”.
    Thanks for the valuable addition to the post.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — November 22, 2006 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: