1. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    somebody vs. someone; anybody vs. anyone

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Homer Potvin, May 20, 2017.

    These have been messing with me lately and I have no idea why. I'll write "anybody" in a sentence, move on, revise later, change it to "anyone," move on, come back later, change it back to "anybody," etcetera etcetera....

    Ditto with someone vs. somebody. It's becoming a thing with me. Almost like a nervous tic, and it seems kind of stupid because I don't have any strong opinions, positive or negative, about which one to use when. Yet I keep messing with it like it's vitally important, which I doubt it is.

    Thoughts? Preferences?
     
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I think it kind of depends on the context of the sentence, right? Sometimes they're interchangeable; sometimes they aren't.

    "Does anyone have a phone?" I would use anyone here because the asker is looking for one person but anybody also doesn't sound wrong.

    And now that I'm trying to come up with examples, I can't easily think of a sentence that sounds wrong with one or the other.

    Do you have an example sentence?
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think they're interchangeable, denotation-wise, so the only reason to change would be rhythm, or maybe a slightly more formal connotation to "someone"/"anyone".
     
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Not really. I could give you one but it wouldn't matter because it's all of them all the time. Not sure what the hangup with me is on this--I'm usually quite decisive and indifferent when it comes to the "stupid" words--but this seems to be bothering me more than it should. Intellectually, like Bay said, I know they are interchangeable, but save for the occasional rhythmic consideration or alliteration with the hard "b" (or the smooth "o" for that matter) I seem to be vacillating unnecessarily.
     
  5. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    I am inclined to agree with BayView. The "ones" seem more formal. I tend to prefer using the "body"s in dialogue or internal monologue, while I use the "one"s in exposition. But not always. I guess I've never really given it much thought lol
     
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  6. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    In a formal situation, "someone" is the way to go. Informally, either works and you choose by context.

    So your lawyer says: "Someone must sign for your release."
    And your bail bondsman says: "Fifty kilos s'enough to get somebody killed."
    And the coroner says: "Someone gather up the body." (Because "somebody . . . body" sounds awful and we guide his dialog safely through the straits.)

    &c, &c.
     
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  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Bayview on this one. Level of formality is the only real divide. Especially the word anybody. It has a sing-song, rhymie quality to it that makes it feel overtly young and playgroundish.
     
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  8. amerrigan

    amerrigan Active Member

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    Is this potentially an American vs English usage issue? Maybe one that has faded over time?

    I feel that 'anyone' is more American and 'anybody' is more English for some reason...

    But, maybe that's just because Pink Floyd use 'anybody' in their song lyrics.
     
  9. jakeybum

    jakeybum Active Member

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    “Anyone” and “someone” are used in formal writing; but, essentially, there is no fundamental difference.
     

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