Every/Any

What’s the difference between every and any?

We use any and every to talk generally about items in a group. Although these words are easily confused, they have different meanings: every refers to all items in a group, while any can refer to some of a group or can refer to one, random element of the group. Read on to learn all the differences between every and any, then practise what you’ve learned in the exercises.

Any

  • in a positive sentence, any means whichever
Example:
We were allowed to choose any sweet we wanted.

this sweet or that sweet or the other sweet

  • in a negative sentence, any means none at all or not one
    Examples:
    She doesn’t know any people in her building.
    not one person
    She doesn’t eat any fruit.
    not apples, not oranges, no fruit at all
  • we can form indefinite pronouns with any to refer to unknown or unspecified people or things.
Example:
anybody/anyone = whichever person
anything = whichever individual item or items
anywhere = whichever place
any time = whichever time

Every

  • every refers to all the items/people in a group
Example:
Sebastian wanted to buy every sweet in the shop.

this sweet and that sweet and the other sweet …

  • in negative sentences, every refers to not all, but some
    Examples:
    She doesn’t eat every fruit.
    she eats some fruit but not all of them, e.g. she eats all fruits except for kiwis
    She doesn’t know every person in her building.
    she knows some people, but not all of them
  • every refers to all things/people collectively, we can form indefinite pronouns with every
Examples:
everybody/everyone = all people
everything = all things
everywhere = all places
every time = all times

Learn more about everything and anything in our section on indefinite pronouns. To brush up on a related pair of confusing words, check out the page on some vs. any.