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Anyone vs any one, none vs no one [infographic]

  • November 12, 2013
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The confusion with “anyone and any one” and “none and no one” could be blamed on the way they sound. Folks speak more than they write, so these words are often incorrectly swapped when put onto paper. A look at the rules and an infographic should sort everything out.



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Anyone vs Any One (“any at all”)

“Anyone” is a pronoun that means “any person.” It is always used for people and never for inanimate objects.
“Anyone can do this.”
“I’m throwing a party and anyone can come.”

“Any one” is a pairing of two adjectives and can refer to things as well as people. “One” is a determiner that points to a singular item or unit and is often followed by “of.”
“Bubba loves all ice cream, not any one flavor.”
“Mole rats are ugly, hairless, and they bite; any one of these aspects would keep me from picking one up.”

When a dramatic emphasis is needed in relation to people or things, “any one” is especially handy. “I couldn’t bear to lose any one of you” means the same as “I couldn’t bear to lose any of you,” but the first sentence adds drama and further emphasizes each person. The word “single” could be added for even more emphasis: “I couldn’t bear to lose any single one of you.” For things, it is used in the same way: “If any one of those tiles is removed, the entire pile will fall.”

Another use is in the phrase “at any one time,” which adds clarity and emphasis.
“The library only allows three reference books off the shelf at any one time.” (clarity)
“At any one time, there were a minimum of sixteen birds at our feeder.” (emphasis; lots of birds)
“We have not gone out for lunch at any one time and not had pizza.” (emphasis; sick of pizza)

None vs No One (“not any”)

“None” must point to a noun or nouns in the sentence and can refer to inanimate objects. Since it is a descendant of “no one,” some argue that “none” can only be singular, but it is accepted either way and more often heard in the plural. In fact, the singular can seem awkward in certain cases.

Incorrect: “None were there when she returned to the classroom.”
Correct: “None of the students were there when she returned to the classroom.”
Incorrect: “I have eaten none.”
Correct: “I have eaten none of the pickles.”
Singular/Plural: “None of us is staying,” “None of us are staying.”

“No one” is the same as “nobody.” When used in this way, it can never refer to inanimate objects. It is used just as it is and requires no helping words, and it does not need to point to a noun.

“No one was there when she returned to the classroom.”
“Quit complaining; no one touched your pickles!”
“No one is staying.”

“No one” can also indicate a lack of emphasis on any specific item or person in a group.

“Fifteen people were on the deck when it collapsed; no one person caused it.”
“He searched, but no one rope was longer than the others.”
“My cake will be shared equally by all. No one of you will have more than another.”

Sound-alike words are notorious for giving people headaches. Can you list any others?

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