The question is too difficult for everyone to answer.
The question is too difficult to answer.

Do the above two sentences mean same? or there is a difference between the two?

1 Answer 1


The first sentence is rather ambiguous, and would probably not get used much. It is ambiguous since it can mean "Not everyone can answer (but some can)" or "Everyone is unable to answer (ie nobody can)" You probably meant to ask about "This question is too difficult for anyone to answer."

The context of the second sentence could change its interpretation. If you are a student it would probably mean "too difficult for me to answer". If you are a teacher it could mean "too difficult for my students to answer."

So there may be cases when using "anyone" adds information, and the two sentences are not exactly the same.

  • I certainly agree OP's first example would probably not get used much (Google Books has not a single instance of too difficult for everyone to answer), but I don't think there's much scope for "ambiguity". There are dozens of written instances of too difficult for anyone to answer (as I'm sure we'd all expect), so the intended significance of using everyone instead should be obvious to anyone (everyone? :) Jul 15, 2018 at 12:55
  • Actually, I don't know what you think the intended significance is. My guess would be that it is an error and the intended meaning was the same as "anyone", but I know that the "logical" meaning is the opposite.
    – James K
    Jul 15, 2018 at 13:05
  • The fact that your first thought is OP's example is an "error" suggests you're firmly rooted in the context of teaching non-native speakers how to use English. I find it hard to imagine that any native Anglophone would "accidentally" use everyone instead of anyone in such a context. So I'd assume the choice was deliberate, and therefore conveys meaning (specifically, a different meaning to that which would have been conveyed by the "default" choice anyone). Which only really permits the interpretation only some [not all] people can answer it. Jul 15, 2018 at 13:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .