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Nobody vs. No Body (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use nobody vs. no body on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

This week, let's look at the differences of nobody and no body. One of my favorite movies, Clue, plays off these differences in a scene where Mr. Boddy, who is supposed to be dead, is no longer where he's supposed to be.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

The butler Wadsworth, when clarifying that Mr. Boddy's body is no longer where it should be, says, "Nobody. No Boddy, that's what we mean. Mr. Boddy's body. It's gone."

So let's look at when to use "nobody" and when to use "no body."

nobody_vs_no_body_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Nobody vs. No Body

Nobody refers to the lack of a person or people (as in "nobody showed up to the concert"). It can also refer to a person of low importance or concern (as in "his opinion didn't matter, because he was a nobody"). 

No body is the lack of a body, which could mean a person's body (living or dead), but it could also refer to a celestial body, body of government, the body of a fine wine, body of water, or some other connotation. 

Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Correct: She wanted to tell someone, but there was nobody to tell.
Incorrect: She wanted to tell someone, but there was no body to tell.

Correct: He found a head but no body during the search for her lost Barbie doll.
Incorrect: He found a head but nobody during the search for her lost Barbie doll.

The best way to keep this straight is remember that the single word nobody refers to a person, while the phrase no body is the lack of an actual body.

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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.

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