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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?

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Both forms are valid. It depends entirely on context, which hasn't been supplied here. –  FumbleFingers Mar 14 '12 at 16:31

3 Answers 3

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.

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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.

Consider:

  • 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.

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Nowhere is the more common of the two.

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

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

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