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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Something, nothing, anything, everything ?

Today we are going to look at a grammar point which causes many problems for learners of English; the difference between the compounds formed from some, any, no and every.

someone / somebody, something, somewhere

We use the above primarily in affirmative sentences, although they can be used in questions of invitation when the speaker expects an affirmative answer.

I'd like to go somewhere quiet on holiday next year.

Someone called for you while you were in the shower.

Would you like something to eat?

anyone / anybody, anything, anywhere

We use the above in questions and negative sentences. They can also be used in affirmative sentences when we want to say whichever, wherever, when we don't mind.

Is anybody staying in your spare room at the moment?

Julie never wants to go anywhere, she is really boring.

-What do you want to eat tonight?
-Anything, I'm not bothered.

nobody, no one, nothing, nowhere

We use the above in questions and affirmative sentences to convey a negative meaning, They are usually used as subjects of a sentence or question. They cannot be used in conjunction with a verb that is already in the negative.

I fell in the street and nobody stopped to help me!

My landlord has thrown me out of the flat and I have nowhere to go!

Nothing to wear? Don't worry we can help you!

everyone / everybody, everything, everywhere

We use these compounds in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences when we want to be inclusive.

I left an egg boiling while I was on the phone and when I went back in the kitchen it had exploded and there was egg everywhere!

Does everybody have a holy communion in Spain?

I still don't have everything I need, I'll have to go back to the supermarket again.

Finally here is a little riddle to help you remember the difference.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could ...

So If you think that you have understood all of that, you should try to do this quiz. Good luck!

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