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Word comparisons

Note 141 – The difference between ‘anyone’ and ‘anybody’

There are a lot of conflicting articles around on this subject.  The Cambridge Dictionaries online defines anyone as “used in questions and negatives to mean ‘a person or people'” and the Oxford Dictionaries online has a very similar definition.  Interestingly, if you look up anybody in both online dictionaries, it says anyone.  The Dr Grammar site: also suggests that both words are interchangeable.

The website Difference Between had a slightly different answer, suggesting that there is a subtle difference between the words (although it is a common grammatical error to use them incorrectly). They do, however, end the article saying that many people use anyone and anybody interchangeably.  They define the words as:

  • Anyone = any single person (it’s the singular form)
  • Anybody = any possible people (it’s the plural form)

For example, when asking the question ‘does anyone have a pen that I can borrow?’ you are “differentiating one person from many” i.e. asking any single person.  If you said ‘does anyone here have a pen in their bag?’ you are clearly addressing more than one person.  Difference Between also suggests that “anybody is used in a context where from a group there can be many”.

As the above seemed very different to my introduction, I read a few forums to get a feel of what others are saying.  The general consensus is that the word anybody should be used in more formal situations than the word anyoneWiki answers recommend using the word that sounds better.

I’ll leave you with the following quote from The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style:

“The two terms are interchangeable, so euphony governs the
choice in any given context. In practice, anyone appears in
print about three times as often as anybody.”


My thoughts: I was actually surprised with this one –  I thought it was going to be another example of two words that mean the same, but now I’m not so sure.  Please leave me a comment if you have any tips on the difference between these two words. 

That’s it for today. This blog forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter!/madeirasandra or my new ‘Tips and Luxuries’ Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…


My writing challenge:

This blog:

My other blog:

My website: (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Cambridge Dictionaries online 

Dr Grammar’s frequently asked questions:  

Difference Between

Wiki answers

The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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