Anywhere vs. Any Place

background image 19

A reader asks if there’s a difference between the adverbs anywhere and any place.

According to The Chicago Manual of Style, the word anywhere:

is preferred when referring to an indefinite location (my keys could be anywhere). But any place (two words) is narrower when you mean “any location” (they couldn’t find any place to sit down and rest).

Here are Web examples that illustrate this use:

The missing passenger plane, which the world has been hunting for days, could be anywhere within a 2,530-mile radius.

Suitable temperatures can be anywhere in the range of from ambient to the temperature at which the subsequent nanofiltration step is carried. 

Are there any pollution-free places left on Earth?
Is there any place that will loan me money in the next hour?

The Ngram Viewer shows that one-word anyplace has appeared in printed books since 1800, with a marked rise in use since the 1940s.

Another two-word adverb, any time, also appears on the Ngram graph as early as 1800 and shows a rise in use about the same time as anyplace.

Popular usage prefers formations such as anyplace and anytime to any place and any time. For example, glossaries of texting terms explain that the abbreviation a3 stands for “anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”

American style guides continue to regard the spelling anyplace as nonstandard, but the one-word version is ubiquitous, even in publications assumed to adhere to standard usage:

“Private equity can go anyplace,” Wilbur Ross, who has also invested in businesses once thought off limits, told The New York Times.—NY Times, 2007.

The patterns were intriguing and the textures surprising – although the fabrics seemed quite heavy for a springtime anyplace but Alaska.—Washington Post, 2014.

Now a junior, Hezekiah has lived in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity longer than anyplace else in his life.—Christian Science Monitor, 2014.

Merriam-Webster lists both anyplace and anytime without comment, and the M-W Learner’s Dictionary gives the following sentences as examples of acceptable usage:

I’ll go anyplace you want.
I can’t find my keys anyplace.
I’m happy here and I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s no reason any place shouldn’t be written anyplace and any time as anytime. After all, anywhere was once written as two words.

In the practical scheme of formal English, however, the writer whose audience includes readers of all educational levels is still advised to avoid the one-word versions and write any place and any time because these are the forms viewed as conventional usage in the second decade of the 21st century.

Stop making those embarrassing mistakes! Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips today!

You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!

Each newsletter contains a writing tip, word of the day, and exercise!

You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!

2 thoughts on “Anywhere vs. Any Place”

  1. It may also be worth pointing out that, while examples may no doubt be found, any other form than ‘anywhere’ is non-standard in the UK, and soinds alien to my ear. The Cambridge Dictionary Online lists ‘anyplace’ as ‘US’. On the other hand, it allows ‘anytime’ and ‘any time’ in British use, and my antennae agree.

  2. In all of the examples of the one-word “anyplace,” the word “anywhere” seems better to my US English ear (and eyes). I would expect to see “anyplace” more and more in informal writing, but to see it in more traditionally “correct” publications is jarring — and a bit troubling to my slightly prescriptivist self.

Leave a Comment