Anyone vs. Everyone
A promotional announcement for an end-of-year review on NPR set me thinking about the difference between anyone and everyone:
The year 2014 has been no fun for just about everyone.
The construction struck me as odd because the negative “no fun” led me to expect anyone, not everyone.
Anyone means anybody or any person. It refers to an individual in a group; which one doesn’t matter. Anyone is the usual choice in negative statements and in questions:
There wasn’t anyone in the lobby.
I didn’t see anyone in the street.
The year 2014 was no fun for anyone.
Does anyone remember his name?
Can anyone learn how to sing?
In addition to its use with negatives and questions, anyone is used for emphasis:
Anyone could do it, even a caveman.
Everyone means everybody or every person. It refers to all the members in a group.
Everyone worked late today.
Everyone is welcome at the meetings.
Her mother asked everyone to contribute to the food drive.
The year 2014 was miserable for just about everyone.
In some contexts, there is very little difference between anyone and everyone:
Correct: Everyone benefits from a just government.
Correct: Anyone benefits from a just government.
Sometimes they are not interchangeable:
Incorrect: The new CEO knows anyone in the business.
Correct : The new CEO knows everyone in the business.
Note: One could say, “The new CEO knows everyone who is anyone in the business.”
The NPR sentence sounds unnecessarily convoluted to me, but then, it did catch my attention.
Some idioms with anyone:
Something that can’t be known until it happens. “It’s anyone’s guess who will win the election.”
An evenly balanced contest. “Tied in the seventh inning, it was still anyone’s game.”
not give anyone the time of day
Ignore someone, out of dislike or boorishness. “The new employee won’t give anyone the time of day.”
Idioms with everyone:
everyone who is anyone
Anyone of any importance. “We talked with everyone who is anyone in the world of cycling, starting with urban mobility expert Mikael Colville-Andersen.”
can’t please everyone
No matter what you do, someone will object to it. “I stopped worrying about what people thought about my art. You can’t please everyone.
everyone and his brother
an especially large number of people. “Everyone and his brother had diplomatic representatives there.”
Subscribe and Get a Free eBook: 100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid
- The subscription is completely free, and we only send out one email per week, on Tuesdays
- Our emails are fun and educating and will help you improve your writing skills
- You can unsubscribe anytime you want and keep the e-book as a gift