Grammar

Common Sense or Commonsense? One Word or Two?

Should it be common sense or commonsense? There is a difference and it depends on how the word (or words) are being used.

Here at Patrick’s Place, grammar is one of the top topics I write about. My tagline is “Regular doses of common sense.” Or should it be commonsense?

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’d write a grammar post about “common sense.” In fact, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for such a post, right? I thought so.

This week’s post focuses on the difference between common sense and commonsense. While it certainly seems true that there isn’t enough of either these days, there’s a slight difference between the two words and when each should be used.

If you’re referring to common sense as a thing itself, it’s two words, as in:

Common sense is no longer all that common.

If, on the other hand, you’re using common sense as a descriptor of something else, make it one word:

The deputy offered commonsense tips to protect people’s home and property.

In this case, commonsense is an adjective to describe the type of tips being offered by law enforcement. That means the tips were mostly viewed as common sense, not that this is a bad thing.

For something that seems so uncommon, the phrase “common sense” was coined in the 16th century from the Latin sēnsus commūnis, which had been translated from the Greek koinḕ aísthēsis.

Personally, I think common sense is much easier to spell.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, there is a difference but I always use the first description, as a thing of its own, so to me it is always two words.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.