A multiple choice question:

He works harder than ____ in his class.

Why would filling “anyone” there be wrong? And why would using "any other student" be right? I think it should be "any other students."

  • 3
    "anyone else" or "any other student"
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 21, 2021 at 3:52
  • 1
    @EddieKal "anyone" is fine on its own as well. Sure if you try treating language as formal logic that would imply that he works harder than himself, but language is not a logic puzzle. The listener can generally be trusted to disregard such an obviously paradoxical sense on their own and so, by the maxim of quantity, the word "else" would generally be expected to be avoided in cooperative speech (and in fact, I'm pretty certain that in most circumstances you'd hear this far more often without the "else" than with)
    – Tristan
    Jan 21, 2021 at 14:48
  • Either are fine. Technically if he works "harder than anyone" in his class it's not limited to other students — so maybe he also works harder than the teacher (or the class hamster) :) Jan 21, 2021 at 16:47
  • 1
    @Tristan You get no objection from me there. In fact that's what I was thinking too, but the question states it is "a multiple choice question". Sounds like an exam/homework assignment question to me. I upvoted the first answer as soon as it came out because I wanted to make sure OP knew "anyone" is correct too all its own.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 21, 2021 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Using "he works harder than any other student" is saying that if another student is chosen, no matter who, 'he' works harder than that student. The singular "student" is correct, but the sentence is still OK if the plural "students" is used.


If he works harder than anyone, then he would be working harder than himself, which is not possible. As such, it must be "anyone else" or "any other student".

While this is the grammatically correct way to say it, there are plenty of native speakers who would say "He works harder than anyone in his class," so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

  • 7
    Your first point is only true in as much as you want to apply formal logic to the English language, it’s not a matter of grammar. The hyperbole that results from omitting the ‘else’ is still trivially understood in any major dialect of English, and some dialects preferentially use that form specifically for emphasis. Jan 21, 2021 at 12:29

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