No One or Nobody – Is One Better?

In common use, the indefinite pronouns no one and nobody is often incorrectly used interchangeably with none. The first two are singular and have the same meaning. However, none can often have different meanings, with a singular or plural usage. 

A graphic showing the words Nobody in the dictionary with the words "or No One?" right below.

Using Nobody

As an indefinite pronounnobody does refer to specific people. Instead, it means the same thing as no person. It refers to the absence of something, and it doesn’t have any definite amount of absence attached to it. In writing, however, it should be treated as a singular noun, such as in a sentence like: Nobody was home during the incident. 

How To Use No One

Similarly, No One is another indefinite pronunciation that means the same things as nobody. It is viewed as more formal in modern cases, so it is often seen more commonly in writing. 

It is also important to know that no one should be two separate words in American English, and it would be a mistake to write something like noone. In addition, you may also see it written sometimes as no-one, which is commonly found in British English. 

Using None

None is a pronoun that means not any, not one, or no things/people. In contrast, it can also be used as an adverb to mean to no extent. 

It is commonly misconstrued that none is only singular; however, when it is the subject of a clause referring to a group, it can be used singularly. In writing, none must also be finished with a verb when it is not part of the whole; for example, in a sentence such as none of these things are mine.

Examples:

In most cases, no one and nobody are interchangeable, and the only difference is usually the contextual formality that comes along with them. For instance:

  • Nobody is coming to my party tonight
  • No one told me I had to do this

None is synonymous with not any, so it can be used in sentences such as:

  • None of the pears on the tree are ripe
  • None of the students in the classroom had the correct answer 

In these examples, the first one is a great example of the plural use of none, as it refers to that not any of the apples were ripe. In contrast, the second example shows a singular use, as it shows that not one of the students had the answer. If you can’t pick out which one you should use, simply interchange them and see which one reads the best! 

Remembering The Differences Between Nobody, No One, And None 

No one and nobody should usually be referring to people, and either one works in most scenarios, so the choice is really up to you. In addition, none can easily be used to refer to inanimate objects, and it brings attention to the noun of the sentence, such as in:

None of the pears on the tree are ripe. 

In this sentence, none is a great choice as it brings attention to the noun of the sentence (the apples). 


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