Saturday, March 11, 2017

Do You Want Anyone or Any One?

Anyone or Any One?

Is anyone (or any one) spelled as one word or two? 

The answer depends on how the word or phrase is used. 

The space between two words makes a difference.   

The indefinite pronoun anyone (one word) refers to any person at all but not to particular individuals.

Any one (two words) is an adjective phrase that refers to any single member of a group (of either people or things).  

Any one is commonly followed by the preposition of.

A similar distinction applies to anybody and any body, nobody and no body.


  • "People pushing wagons were likely to knock down anyone in their path."
    (Isaac Bashevis Singer, "The Key." The New Yorker, 1970) 
  • "No one has time any more for anyone else. You're one of the few who put up with me."
    (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books, 1953)  
  • Any one of your buddies, if he's careless enough, could turn out to be your enemy. 
  • "She never admitted that any one of her pupils, even the ones who were unmistakably tone deaf, were deficient in musical talent."
    (Tennessee Williams, "The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin." Flair, 1951) 
  • "In the art room, a class that used to sit through the interminable 'slide show' is now engaged in a Web tour of the works in the Louvre and can zoom in to study the fine details of any one of the paintings."
    (Robert T. Tauber and Cathy Sargent Mester, Acting Lessons for Teachers, 2nd ed. Praeger, 2007)  

Usage Note

"[W]hat's the difference between anyone and any one? Or between everyone and every one

First, they are all grammatically singular, regardless of meaning. But there is a difference in meaning between the one- and two-word versions: when you type anyone or everyone, you're referring to people; when you type any one or every one you may be referring to people, but not necessarily--it depends on what follows or what is understood.

"For example, perhaps you mean 'any one of the customers' or 'every one of the customers' (in which case you are referring to people); or maybe you mean 'any one of the petunias' or 'every one of the petunias' (in which case you are not referring to people). In sum, any one and every one mean one of a group (of people or things), rather than one person (anyone) or a bunch of people (everyone)."

(Janis Bell, Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation. W.W. Norton, 2008) 


(a) Does ______ know who first said, "You can't trust anybody over 30"?

(b) If ______ of the 25 barons should die, the remaining barons shall choose a replacement.

Answers to Practice Exercise:

(a) Does anyone know who first said, "You can't trust anybody over 30"?

(b) If any one of the 25 barons should die, the remaining barons shall choose a replacement.

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