What's the Difference Between Anyone and Any One?

Hand reaching to grab a pumpkin from a large pile.

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Is anyone spelled as one word or two? The answer depends on how the word or phrase is used. The space between the two words makes a difference.

Is Anyone One Word or Two?

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

Any one as 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, as well as nobody and no body.

Examples

Any one of your buddies, if he's careless enough, could turn out to be your enemy.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, "The Key" 

"People pushing wagons were likely to knock down anyone in their path."

Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451"

"No one has time any more for anyone else. You're one of the few who put up with me."

Tennessee Williams, "The resemblance between a violin case and a coffin"

"She never admitted that any one of her pupils, even the ones who were unmistakably tone deaf, were deficient in musical talent."

Robert T. Tauber and Cathy Sargent Mester, "Acting Lessons for Teachers"

"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."

Usage Note

Janis Bell, "Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences"

"[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)."

Practice

  1. Does ______ know who first said, "You can't trust anybody over 30?"
  2. If ______ of the 25 barons should die, the remaining barons shall choose a replacement.

Answers

  1. anyone
  2. any one

Sources

Bell, Janis. "Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation." 1st Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, September 8, 2009.

Bradbury, Ray. "Fahrenheit 451." Paperback, Reissue edition, Simon & Schuster, January 10, 2012.

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. "The Key." The New Yorker, November 28, 1969.

Tauber, Robert T. "Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom." Cathy Sargent Mester, Praeger, September 30, 1994.

Williams, Tennessee. "The resemblance between a violin case and a coffin: a short story." W. H. Auden, Jean Cocteau, Print book, WoldCat.