Anybody vs. Anyone vs. Somebody vs. Someone (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use anyone vs. anybody vs. someone vs. somebody with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including examples of each.
Author:
Publish date:

Okay, so the "dek" for this post says "learn when to use anyone vs. anybody vs. someone vs. somebody," and I just want to make it clear that I'm referring to words here and not actual people. Use words, not people.

(A Moral vs. Amoral vs. Immoral.)

Anyway, this one is a little tricky, because all four words kind of mean the same thing, but they kind of don't work in the same situations. No joke, my copy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary has the following definitions:

  • anybody pronoun any person: ANYONE
  • anyone pronoun any person at all
  • somebody pronoun one or some person of unspecified or indefinite identity
  • someone pronoun some person: SOMEBODY

If this seems like a slippery, cyclical slope of something, then well, yeah; that's what I thought too. So, let's figure out the differences between anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody.

anybody_vs_anyone_vs_somebody_vs_someone_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Anyone vs. Anybody vs. Someone vs. Somebody

Anyone is a pronoun that means "any person." So if you would like help from a person and you don't care who that person is, then you would like help from anyone. In this sense, that anyone is not important, because anyone will do. However, anyone can sometimes be important, as in the phrase "Anyone who's anyone (fill-in-the-blank with something important people would care about or do)." For instance, anyone who's anyone loves reading grammar rules; we're the cool kids.

Anybody is a pronoun that is interchangeable with anyone. Some sources try to claim one is more formal than the other, but honestly, I think it's just a matter of whether you prefer three or four syllables in your "any person" pronoun. But maybe that's just my poetry showing. Maybe anybody who's anybody has a preference between anyone and anybody.

(Analogy vs. metaphor vs. simile.)

Somebody is a pronoun that means "some person." When comparing it with "any person," "some person" sounds a little more specific, and it often is. However, don't get too carried away with that specificity, because somebody is still some person "of unspecified or indefinite identity," which doesn't sound specific at all. But at the same time, "a somebody" is a person of importance or great social standing. Confused yet?

Well, someone is a pronoun that is interchangeable with somebody. So it's just as specific and unspecific, just as important and unimportant. Truthfully, these four pronouns are often interchangeable, though there are a few times when you should go with your choice of "some person" over your choice of "any person."

Here are some examples:

Correct: I'd be happy if anybody would help me do my chores.
Correct: I'd be happy if anyone would help me do my chores.
Correct: I'd be happy if somebody would help me do my chores.
Correct: I'd be happy is someone would help me do my chores.

Correct: Anybody who's anybody knows grammar rules.
Correct: Anyone who's anyone knows grammar rules.
Incorrect: Somebody who's somebody knows grammar rules.
Incorrect: Someone who's someone knows grammar rules.

Incorrect: If you go to the service center, anybody will take a look at your car.
Incorrect: If you go to the service center, anyone will take a look at your car.
Correct: If you go to the service center, somebody will take a look at your car.
Correct: If you go to the service center, someone will take a look at your car.

It's wild I know, but there are times when someone can be anyone, and anybody can be somebody. But there are also times when anyone can try to be a somebody, but not just anybody can be a someone.

*****

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.

Brandt_1:14

Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.

plot_twist_story_prompts_moment_of_doubt_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.

dr_caitlin_oconnell_finding_connection_and_community_in_animal_rituals_author_spotlights

Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!

new_agent_alert_zeynep_sen_of_wordlink_literary_agency

New Agent Alert: Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Henick_1:13

Mark Henick: On Memory, Healing, and Languishing Projects

Author Mark Henick shares how he was able to turn a successful TEDx talk into a memoir, even when the project didn't come as quickly as he expected.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 553

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a do-over poem.