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I am always at loggerheads with MS Word in this case. I write a sentence with 'any body' and it pops up its annoying blue underline suggesting 'anybody'.

The question: should I let it correct it? Does the meaning change? Personally, I don't like this correction.

Example:

The catastrophic disaster left the city with hundreds of bodies. While walking through the corpses with my heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I kept on shouting, “If you find any body [MS Office suggestion -anybody] even with the slightest movement, call for emergency. Jesus, help us.”

Anybody = Any body = Any corpse here?

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    You are right. When you are indeed talking about bodies, the space is correct. Word annoys you because many people include the space when it should not be there. Do not let it correct it when you know you are right. You can tell word to ignore that instance :)
    – oerkelens
    Jun 5 '14 at 11:35
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    See Canonical Post #1 Jun 5 '14 at 11:37
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    @Maulik: Because some human readers are at least as dumb as MS-Word, it would be far better to avoid the unwanted overtones of anybody/anyone in the first place. The word any serves no real purpose there anyway, so I'd suggest replacing the queried text with plain a body. Also note that idiomatically it would almost always be with even the slightest movement, not even with. Jun 5 '14 at 13:16
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    @rogermue - Corpses would/should never be moving. Bodies, on the other hand, may show signs of life. Jun 5 '14 at 13:40
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    A body does seem better in this case. Any body would be fine in other situations, though. Note that it's distinguished in pronunciation from anybody by the third vowel.
    – user230
    Jun 5 '14 at 18:24
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No, anybody does not mean the same as any body or any corpse (but the latter two are roughly equivalent in this context). As noted by FumbleFingers in the comments, this is a mistake on Word's part, because automated grammar analysis is quite difficult to do well. Anybody is a synonym for anyone, and that's definitely not what you want to say here.

Given the context, I take it the speaker in the passage is searching the corpses for possible survivors, and wants to check every body that moves. I'd change the phrasing to this:

If you find any bodies with even the slightest movement

I suggest any bodies because...

  • There are hundreds of bodies
  • There may be more than one moving body
  • Every body showing signs of movement merits an emergency call

If the speaker were searching for any body, then the search could stop after finding one, because any [single] body satisfies the condition (showing any amount of movement).

MrWonderful rightly points out that the use of any corpses sounds strange, because there's no question about whether a corpse is dead or not.

I would not omit bodies, because If you find any with even doesn't work well without some preceding dialogue specifying the ellipted noun. It begs the question any what; bodies, survivors, animals, rock slides? The context does make it clear to the reader, but it takes mental work to dig out. The listeners in the story might not find it so clear, especially since they're likely distracted and stressed by the tragedy at hand.

I've also switched the order of even, placing it after with, though this has nothing to do with the use of any bodies. Moving even changes the semantics of the clause. Even with emphasizes the bodies; the search becomes for bodies, even those which may be slightly moving, which includes unmoving corpses. But the speaker here is looking exclusively for bodies with [even the slightest] movement, meaning that any degree of motion greater than zero qualifies (so corpses are excluded). Both constructions convey that moving bodies will be rare, but their conditionally qualifying sets differ.

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    +1 for ...for the search could stop after finding one...
    – Maulik V
    Jun 10 '14 at 8:53

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