I have some difficulty to understand when to use the 4 words: anybody, somebody, anyone, someone. For example: “I would like to ask if someone can help me” is it right? And if I want to start the quote with one of these words, it can be: “Anyone can help?” I’m confused.

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of anyone vs someone. Which one? Also Anyone vs someone Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 14:12
  • In contexts such as Is there anyone/someone who can help me?, the two words are effectively equivalent / interchangeable. In other contexts it's relevant that anyone is a "negative polarity" word, so it's the more natural choice in, for example, No, there isn't anyone who can help (equivalent to There is no-one who can help). Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 14:31
  • Not truly a duplicate with questions that limit the distinction to any- words versus some- words. In my response, I have referred to one of the better discussions on this distinction, but also added material relevant to the immediate, more general question.
    – brainchild
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 6:46

2 Answers 2


Because these four words are constructed from combinations of parts, it is worthwhile to consider the parts separately.

Words ending in -one versus -body

Both have the same meaning, but as observed in some sources (see discussion in Cambridge Dictionary), compared to -one words, -body words are slightly more familiar (informal). I suggest that formal language prefers -one words over -body words, whereas vernacular speech probably shows a more balanced frequency. I believe that while neither choice is better than the other, native speakers naturally, but only slightly, may prefer, for longer sentences, -one words, because they are easier to speak, and for shorter sentences, -body words, because they are easier to notice. For example:

  • "If someone has a problem with the administration of the company, that person must submit a complaint to a manager".

  • "I think somebody's coming"

Words beginning in any- versus some-

Formally, any- words belong to a type called indefinite determiners, whereas some- words belong to one called definite determiners. Various detailed discussions (see Wikipedia article) of this distinction are available, but understanding them is not necessary to learn the language.

Also, a diverse range of viewpoints is provided in the similar question Is using “someone” in a question correct?.

Both are equally good choices in many contexts. However, any- (indefinite) words tend to emphasize a question of which particular person is of some kind or acts in some way, whereas some- words (definite) tend to emphasize the question of whether or not at least one person does so, with limited attention toward which particular person.

For example:

  • "If anyone from your office is single, then I hope you would introduce us.": In this case, anyone is an appropriate choice, because the intention is to identify some particular members of a group, not merely to determine whether or not such members exist.

  • "Someone from the repair shop called.": In this case, someone is an appropriate choice, because the intention is to express that a call occurred, without concern for which person made the call.

The distinction is similar to that between indefinite and definite articles, though the difference is less important for determiners than articles.

It is also similar to the much stronger distinction between the words something and anything. The command "Do anything" expresses that all options are equally acceptable, whereas "Do something" expresses particularly that doing nothing is not acceptable.

  • The examples are excellent to understand that they might not be always interchangeable. I also dared to highlight the words, I find it a lot more obvious, it might help others too. +1
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 5:38

The general rule is the one below. anyone/anybody etc. are exactly the same. No difference at all.

  • Somebody ate all the bread. [declarative pronoun]
  • Did anybody eat all the bread? [interrogative pronoun] [The expectation is that a person OR
  • Did somebody eat all the bread? [alternative interrogative pronoun]
  • Nobody ate the bread. It's on the table. [negative pronoun]

    For questions with modals like can, the question is formed starting with the modal:

  • Can someone/anyone help me with this?

  • Should someone/anyone answer the phone today?

Please note: nobody and no one is used in the negative and double negatives should be avoided ("I didn't see no one.").

There is a slight difference between any[one or body] and some[one or body].

With a negative expectation, one would say: - Did anyone enjoy themselves at the party? [The party was terrible.] - Did anyone [at all] eat the pasta dish? [The pasta was not great.]

That use of anyone or anybody sometimes reveals the speaker's attitude.

With the last one, if one simply does not know, one would say: - Did someone come to the door?

If there is a negative expectation, one would say: - Did anyone come to the door?

Please note, this is not every single point that may be made about these usages.

  • Someone is going through my answers and downvoting. Woe is you. How low can one go?
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 23:54

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