English Grammar Guide

Somebody, Nobody, Anybody, etc

The words 'some', 'any' and 'no' are often combined with the words 'body', 'one', 'where' and 'thing' to form the a series of commonly-used compound nouns including 'something, nothing, anything' which are used to refer to unidentified singular or plural nouns.

Some, any, none...

The words 'some', 'any' and 'no' are often combined with the words 'body', 'one', 'where' and 'thing' to form the following series of commonly-used compound nouns:

Somebody, Someone, Somewhere, Something, Anybody, Anyone, Anywhere, Anything, Nobody, No one / No-one, Nowhere, Nothing


Somebody, Someone, Somewhere, Something

The compound nouns Somebody, Someone, Something and Somewhere are used in positive sentences. They can also be used in questions to offer or ask for a thing, or when we expect a positive response.
Somebody and Someone refer to a single unknown or unspecified person
something refers to a single unknown or unspecified thing
Somewhere refers to a single unknown or unspecified place.

These forms can be used as subjects or objects in positive sentences, but are normally used only as objects in questions.

  • I saw somebody outside the office.

  • Somebody was already waiting outside the shop when I arrived.

  • I need something to eat.

  • Something just fell on the floor in the kitchen. Go and see what it was.

  • I'm afraid Paul isn't here at the moment. He's gone out somewhere.

  • Sorry, did you say something?

  • Do you want something to eat?


Anybody, Anyone, Anywhere, Anything

The compound nouns Anybody, Anyone, Anything and Anywhere are generally used in negative sentences and questions as objects, but are only used as subjects in positive sentences.
Anybody, anyone, anywhere and anything refer to one of many people, places or things.

  • Was there anybody waiting when you arrived at the shop?

  • Would you like anything to eat? (Compared with 'something' this suggests I'm not certain you will say yes)

  • Is there anybody here who speaks English?

  • There wasn't anything on TV last night so I went to bed early.

  • I haven't had anything to eat all day! I'm starving.

  • I didn't know anybody at the party.


Nobody, No-one / No one, Nowhere, Nothing

The compound nouns Nobody, No-one (which can also be written as No one), Nothing and Nowhere are used in positive sentences and in questions. The forms all refer to a zero quantity. These forms are more commonly used as subjects, but can also be used as objects.

  • Nobody knows who killed Kennedy, but there are lots of conspiracy theories.

  • There is nowhere better than London for nightlife (Or: Nowhere is better than London for nightlife.)

  • I don't know who rang the bell. I looked outside but there was nobody there.

  • I received a strange letter this morning. When I opened the envelope there was nothing inside it!

  • I'm afraid we have run out of money. There is nothing we can do except close the business down.

Example of use...
Tourists should always be careful with their money and bags in the city centre. When you visit a cafe, always place your bags where you can see them, otherwise it is possible that somebody will steal them. Obviously, if you leave your bags unattended whilst you pay for your drinks, or go the the toilets, anybody could steal them. Nowhere is completely safe, not even expensive restaurants.