I've heard that one is understood as referring to people if one uses any one as in

Q: Which of these ice cream flavors do you want?
A: Any one.

I understand that any one sounds like anyone, but is that a reason not to use the expression?

What about other uses of one, such as the first one and one of them?

  • 1
    There are few restrictions on how you can use "one". "I'd like to have one of those donuts. No, not that one... THAT one. But I'll take any one of those cookies."
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 13:51
  • I don't understand why has someone erased my inverted question mark, so useful at that position. [:-)] And no, we don't have inverted question mark in my native language. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


"One" is used as a pronoun for things and people.


  • "Please hand me the one on the right."
  • "John wants the same one as all his friends."
  • "Having only one is never enough."


  • "Mary is the one who gave me this cold."
  • "The one on the right is my sister."
  • "Go in one at a time, please."
  • The two answers are complementary, since this one discusses "one" in general while the other one talks about the distinction "any one / anyone" in particular (mentioned in my question description). As I must accept a single answer, I choose the most general. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 16:30

Let's start with definitions.

Anyone means any person or people.

Any One refers to any object, person or animal mentioned in the context.

The difference is in how in how you pronounce these words. Once intonation is clear, there may be on confusion.

Anyone is pronounced as one word and the first syllable is stressed, while in any one, the one part is typically stressed more than any part.


Anyone can do it.

Any one of them can do it.

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