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'” http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/anyone?q=anyone 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: http://www.drgrammar.org/search/node/anybody also suggests that both words are interchangeable.
The website Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-anyone-and-anybody/ 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 anyone. Wiki answers http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Anyone_vs_anybody 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.
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Cambridge Dictionaries online http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/anyone?q=anyone
Dr Grammar’s frequently asked questions: http://www.drgrammar.org/search/node/anybody
Wiki answers http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Anyone_vs_anybody
The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style http://www.oxfordreference.com/pages/Subjects_and_Titles__2C_06