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Language Arts

Anyone vs Any One



In this article "anyone" vs "any one," the differences between  "anyone" and "any one" and between "everyone" and "every one" are discussed.  Learn when it is appropriate to use each form. Get pointers to help you remember when to choose "anyone" vs "any one."

There are two set of words in our language that have a closed compound form that is a pronoun and an open form which is an adjective followed by a pronoun with a different meaning. They are:

anyone any one

everyone every one

Someone and no one may seem to belong to this set, but someone has no open form and no one has no closed form. So let’s put anyone and any one in the context of the group everyone and every one to help understand their relationship and distinguish them.

Everyone and Every One

Everyone is a pronoun that is pronounced /EHV ree wuhn/. Separated, it would likely be pronounced /ehv ree WUHN/, emphasizing the one. Compare these sentences:

Lightning struck our house and scared everyone.

Here, everyone means “every person” or “all who were present” or “everybody.”

There were 20 marshmallows left��"enough for each of the four of us to have 5 apiece, but Jules ate every one!

Here, every one means “all of the individual items in the group.”

If Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol had said

God bless us, everyone”

instead of

God bless us, every one”

The meaning would have been -

“Every person present should give us a blessing from God,” with everyone construed as direct address with the imperative God bless us asked of everyone

rather than

“May God bless not just humanity as a group but each individual person on earth,” with every one being an appositive for us, further explaining the object of bless, with the direct address being to God.

These examples help show the difference between the two uses.

Anyone and Any One

Anyone is a pronoun that is pronounced /EHN ee wuhn/. Separated, it would likely be pronounced /ehn ee WUHN/, emphasizing the one. Compare these sentences:

Anyone who would like to go on the trip to Hawaii can sign up on the sheet I’m passing around.

Here, anyone means that each individual may choose and there is no limit on the number of people who can sign up. It is interchangeable with “anybody.”

You need someone to escort the shipment to Hawaii? Any one of these candidates would be a suitable choice.

Here, any one means that only one individual will be chosen: “Whatever individual of these candidates that you might select would be a suitable choice.”

Here is another set of examples:

Two plus two is four: you can ask anyone!

The force of this is, “By asking any people you like and as many people as you like, you will find that everyone agrees with me that two plus two is four.”

The rules allow you to ask any one person for help.

This means that the person being addressed may have recourse to only one other individual: “You are allowed to ask whatever individual you like for help, but only that individual.”

A special case is that the preposition of can only be used after any one because the phrase introduced by of will modify one by itself, not the entire concept. Here is an example:

You may select any one of the items in Column C to accompany your meal.

On the other hand, only anyone can be used in informal constructions to begin an interrogative, as in this example:

Anyone home?

The alternative-  any one home - would mean “any individual house,” as in:

The community is set up with the stipulation that any one home may be sublet at a particular time, but no more than one.

Differentiating Anyone and Any one

The best way to keep these words straight is to recall that the separated example is the example that emphasizes the individual, singular nature of whatever is being discussed, tying the meaning to the spelling with a space in it. By contrast, depending on usage, anybody may actually have the force of everybody.