For ever versus Forever

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cas29, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. cas29

    cas29 Senior Member

    Milan Italy
    Can anyone help me explain why both are acceptable, what the difference (if any) is between their usage?

    This came up in a discussion with my students today.
    The example sentence was "I could stay here for ever".

    My logic was that if refering to "I could stay here for....." a certain amount of time, then "ever" would be used as a separate word.

    If using the word "forever " as one specifc point in time, the two words should be combined.

    I'm not sure if there is something else to consider.
    Any comments? Ideas?
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't think "for ever" is ever correct. I can't cite a source to back me up on that, though.

    [edit] ah, a snippet from Wikipedia might help straighten it out. Apparently it is a BE/AE kind of thing:

    In British usage, for ever means for eternity (or a very long time), as in "I have been waiting for you for ever." Forever means continually, always, as in "They are forever arguing." Forever prevails in all senses in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  3. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    In your sample sentence, I would say its needs to be "forever". In this context, "forever" means for infinity, never ending, "Ever" can't be compared to a certain amount of time because it isn't. I think you could squeak by with an idiom like "for ever and a day" because you've made the time period finite by adding a day to it. Hope this helps.
  4. cas29

    cas29 Senior Member

    Milan Italy
    Thanks for the input and insights.

    I got the example from a BE grammar book we're using in class (as we're in Italy BE is more commonly used; I try to provide examples and explanations of variations as often as I can!).
  5. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well, I do write "for ever" sometimes, and the only rule I could come up with was, if you can substitute "always," you can only use the one-word version of forever. But two words sometimes looks better on the page when your meaning is "for good."

    Then I read the AE/BE post, and that explanation seems to fit my usage pretty well-- except that I use the one-word version most of the time, and for ever only seldom.
  6. cas29

    cas29 Senior Member

    Milan Italy
    Thanks Foxfirebrand.

    That's a nice concise way of explaining how you differenziate the concepts.

    I'm going to print this thread and bring it to class - and then let the students debate and even do a bit of research on their own!

    We'll likely follow the BE pattern, but this is a great example of regional variations for them.
  7. Escuela Rebeca Senior Member

    Spanish Spain
    <Merged with an earlier thread>

    Please, can anybody help me with the difference between forever and for ever???

    Thank you very much in advance
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2014
  8. miamijaguey Senior Member

    Miami, Florida, USA
    English, USA
    No difference, just a preference on usage between the USA and UK:

    Forever (definition)

    (all of Forever, there are 3 more in this node)

    (definition) by Webster 1913 (print)Tue Dec 21 1999 at 23:44:34

    For*ev"er (?), adv. [For, prep. + ever.]
    1. Through eternity; through endless ages, eternally.

    2. At all times; always.

    In England, for and ever are usually written and printed as two separate words; but, in the United States, the general practice is to make but a single word of them.
    Forever and ever, an emphatic "forever." Syn. -- Constantly; continually; invariably; unchangeably; incessantly; always; perpetually; unceasingly; ceaselessly; interminably; everlastingly; endlessly; eternally.
  9. Cubanboy

    Cubanboy Senior Member

    According to Oxford:

    adverb 1 (also for ever) for all future time. 2 a very long time. 3 continually.

    According to Cambridge:


    forever, UK ALSO for ever Show phonetics
    1 for all time:
    I like the house but I don't imagine I'll live there forever.

    2 INFORMAL continually, suggesting too often:
    She's forever telling him she's going to leave him but she never actually does.

    3 for an extremely long time or too much time:
    We'd better walk a bit quicker - it's going to take forever if we go at this pace.
  10. malaka_malaka Junior Member

    United States
    Ingles de Nueva Jersey
    thanks miamijaguey
    i didnt know they spelled it like that in the UK :)
  11. Anastasia~ New Member

    <Merged with an earlier thread.>

    Hello all,

    While I have always thought that "for ever" is incorrect and that we should use "forever" instead, I saw this phrase somewhere:

    "She packed her personal belongings and left for ever"

    So I would like to ask, what's the difference between 'for ever' and 'forever'? (if any)

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2014
  12. Kunio Junior Member

    American English
    In AE we would only use "forever". I believe BE would use either, but they would both mean the same thing.
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    From the Collins dictionary at WRF
  14. fivejedjon Senior Member

    Czech Republic
    English - England
    We accept both. The Oxford ALD lists the single-word version first.
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    For ever (meaning 'without end') is traditional in UK publications, so thus the end of the Lord's Prayer:
    This is the form I see used in UK-published hymn books too.

    The emphatic version for evermore ('this has been and shall be for evermore') is also generally spelt as two words. I think it's one word in AmE.

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