English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the difference between "nowhere" and "not anywhere"; both means the same thing, I guess. Is one of them more polite or more formal?

What is the defining factor to decide which one to use?

share|improve this question
Both forms are valid. It depends entirely on context, which hasn't been supplied here. – FumbleFingers Mar 14 '12 at 16:31
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Nowhere would be the normal usage. However, it might be appropriate if you had done a search of a house for something or someone, to shake your head in despair, and say "It's not anywhere". The implication is that you have looked everywhere, and it is not in any of the places you have looked.

It is slightly idiomatic, though, so it is not for use in formal writing.

share|improve this answer
Ok, great. This is the answer I was looking for! – Michiel Mar 14 '12 at 12:53

It has to do with whether or not the sentence has already been negated.


  • I am not going anywhere.
  • I am going nowhere.

Both of the above are correct and mean virtually the same thing.

If you said: "I am not going nowhere" you would have a double negative and this would be incorrect.

share|improve this answer

Nowhere is the more common of the two.

I'm actually not sure how one would use not anywhere.

share|improve this answer
Ok, thank you for the answer! – Michiel Mar 14 '12 at 9:07

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.