In English, it seems like many words are similar but have different functions and meanings. This creates a lot of confusion for English writers, especially if it is the first time they have ever encountered those words.
In any case, it is important to know the minor distinctions between similar words, even if you aren’t planning on doing any formal writing. Knowing words’ true meaning, you can effectively use them in your writing!
Take the words “anything” and “everything,” for example. Both act as pronouns in sentences and look and sound similar. Don’t be fooled; they have two very different meanings and uses!
What Do “Everything” And “Anything” Mean?
In short, “everything” refers to all possible existing things. This means that all things seen or unseen are a part of “everything.” Even though it has a vague meaning, most people use it to describe everything important or pertains to the conversation. For instance:
- I hope that you all understand everything from the lesson today
- Thank you for everything you have done for me during these hard times
On the other hand, “anything” is a term used to refer to any aspect that specifically pertains to things about the subject at hand. It can refer to any part of a whole, a whole entity, or even an idea. Even though it may have a similar meaning to “everything,” it has very important yet subtle differences that make it unique.
Can You Interchange “Anything” And “Everything?”
Due to these subtle differences, you cannot simply interchange “anything” and “everything” within your sentence. Take the following sentences for example, that show correct and incorrect uses of these words.
Correct: I organized everything, so I don’t need to buy anything new.
Incorrect: I organized anything, so I don’t need to buy everything new
As you can see, the purpose of the correct sentence is to show that the person has organized every possible thing, so they don’t need to buy anything new. In comparison, when swapped in the incorrect sentence, the words easily confuse the sentence’s scope and plurality.
To summarize, “everything” is a word used to describe all possible things, including those seen, unseen, or even unthought of. It is a catch-all that can account for all possible things.
In comparison, “anything” is a word used to describe a part of a whole or an aspect of something. Additionally, it can even describe one object that belongs to a collection.
Due to these minor differences in definition, these words have different uses and cannot be interchanged in writing!
Want to sharpen your business writing skills? Discover our acclaimed online courses at syntaxtraining.com Whether you want to learn about taking taking meeting notes, become a master proofreader, master punctuation or tune-up your business writing skills, our courses are here to help you.