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What is the difference between "anyone" and "everyone" in the following context?

For example,

Anyone is welcome to do such and such.

and

Everyone is welcome to do such and such.

mean exactly the same thing to me. But since I am not a native speaker, I guess there might be some subtle differences. Can anyone explain?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

How to use anyone and everyone as they are typically used in English

  • Everyone means all of the group.
  • Anyone means all or any part of the group.

Original example

Everyone is welcome to do such and such” means all are welcome.
Anyone is welcome to do such and such” means all or any part is welcome.
In this situation, it makes no difference which word you use. Either word gives every person a welcome.

Second example

In the example below, it makes an important difference which word you use.

Does everyone (all of the group) want ice cream?

If the answer is yes, then all of the people want ice cream.
If the answer is no, then some, or maybe all, want something different.

Does anyone (all or any part of the group) want ice cream?

If the answer is yes, then at least one person wants ice cream.
If the answer is no, nobody wants ice cream.

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Just what I said before. ;) –  Billeeb Aug 3 '12 at 22:56
    
Both are okay, but I would prefer everyone in OP's specific example. Anyone is usually more common with negative or in questions. –  Noah Aug 3 '12 at 23:47
    
By the way, I'll emphasize that in "everyone" you are not saying "ALL" but "each one from the group", being "anyone" "one or many between the group". –  Billeeb Aug 6 '12 at 14:34

If the opportunity allows for an unlimited number of participants, either would be correct.

If there is only one opportunity (or possibly very few), but all persons are eligible to partake, anyone is correct, but everyone would not be.

In many contexts, the term anyone also has a subtle connotation that the skill or eligibility barrier is very low (often conveyed by inflection). Everyone doesn’t seem to suggest that.

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To me - Anyone = a single person or opportunity. (Anyone here can be first to come up and speak.)

Everyone = many people. (Everyone here today has a chance to speak.)

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1  
This is how I'd have answered. It depends on the number of people to whom the opportunity is offered. "Anyone" is Any single person and "Everyone" is synonymous with "Everybody". –  TecBrat Aug 3 '12 at 20:24
2  
This is close, but not quite right. Consider my ice cream example. When you ask if anyone wants ice cream you mean to find out if all or any part of the group wants ice cream. You generally aren't asking literally if just a single person wants ice cream. –  MετάEd Aug 3 '12 at 22:15
    
You're wrong. Just read the examples from "ΜετάEd" and my own. Everyone is a synonym of everybody, all and the whole, but that doesn't mean every one of them being the same. –  Billeeb Aug 3 '12 at 22:59

Good question yasar – I had to examine and re-examine this to come up with a very slight distinction.

Semantically, as you rightly believe, the two sentences are (depending on the circumstances obtaining – see other answers) synonymous. Pragmatically, the everyone version connotes an inclusiveness, a sense of welcoming, whereas the anyone version is more clinical.

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In general, the difference is so subtle that it doesn't matter.


I agree with this answer more than with mine. I leave my answer here for the sake of public record (and because I can't delete an accepted answer).


My original answer below:

"Anyone" implies that the universe of people is not everyone on Earth. Usually, based on context, "everyone" also means that, but it's not inherent in the word.

For example,

"Tonight after the meeting, anyone is welcome to ask a question of our panelists"

implies that it's only the people at the meeting.

"Tonight after the meeting, everyone is welcome to ask a question of our panelists"

is only a very bit awkward since it implies that people can come in from another place entirely and ask a question.

On the other hand,

Everyone is welcome to come!

is fine.

Anyone is welcome to come!

on the other hand, implies:

Anyone who wants to is welcome to come.

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3  
I think you are drawing distinctions that do not exist, especially when you add the implication "who wants to" to anyone. That is entirely unwarranted. –  Robusto Aug 3 '12 at 21:20
1  
Would like to see a reliable source that supports the claims made in this answer. –  MετάEd Aug 3 '12 at 21:24
    
@Robusto I agree with you. I think my answer is just what it means to me not what it means to English speakers. See my changes –  Charles Aug 3 '12 at 21:48
    
@ΜετάEd Agreed. See my changes. –  Charles Aug 3 '12 at 21:48
    
Btw, I think asking questions "TO" the panelists would have been logic. "Ask a question of our panelists" ringed like "ask our panelists to do questions to you". –  Billeeb Aug 3 '12 at 23:02

I’ll use Spanish because I think the translation makes the meaning clearer (I might be wrong, educate me but don’t be too hard):

Anyone, meaning “cualquiera”.

Everyone, meaning “cada uno”.

They both mean “all” when you roughly translate them but there are subtleties.

Answer to anyone. - will take you a minute to choose one person and answer him.

Answer to everyone. - will take you hours for the 50 persons waiting for your answer.

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Thanks for the corrections. Now IS clearer... hahaha. –  Billeeb Aug 3 '12 at 22:55

I feel the answer to this lies within the words and it is helpful to split them into their literal meanings. Any one invites any number of individuals, every one invites all (as opposed to a lesser number) and in some senses obliges all. This makes little difference in your example but clearly can do in other cases.

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