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Anything vs. Everything: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on January 10, 2024
"Anything" refers to any one item or possibility, regardless of specifics, while "everything" encompasses all items or possibilities collectively.

Key Differences

Anything is a word used to refer to any single item, matter, or possibility, without specifying what it is. It implies an open choice among a range of things. Everything, in contrast, refers to all things collectively, without leaving out any item. It encompasses the total of what is being discussed or considered.
In usage, anything is often found in contexts that emphasize an unlimited range of possibilities or lack of restriction. For example, "You can choose anything from the menu." This suggests a wide array of individual choices. On the other hand, everything implies completeness or totality, as in "Everything on the menu is delicious," which suggests that all items collectively are being referred to.
Anything can denote something of any kind or any part of a whole, without focusing on its entirety. It is more individualistic and singular in its reference. In contrast, everything suggests a holistic view, focusing on the entire group, collection, or universe of items. It's more comprehensive and all-encompassing.
Anything is often used in questions and negative statements to indicate a lack of limitation, such as in "Is there anything I can do to help?" Here, it implies any single action or task. Everything, conversely, is used to indicate the full scope or entirety of things, as in "I've told you everything I know," which means all the information without exception.
The scope of anything is generally more limited and focused on individual entities or choices, while everything has a broader, all-inclusive scope. This distinction is important in both spoken and written English, as it helps to clarify whether the speaker is referring to a single element or the whole.

Comparison Chart


Any one of a number of things
All things collectively

Contextual Use

Singular, individual choices
Totality, all-encompassing scope

Example in Question

"Can you do anything to help?"
"Did you do everything you could?"

Example in Negative

"There isn't anything I can do."
"There isn't everything here we need."


Possibility among many
Complete set without exception


Open choice, unspecified
Completeness, total inclusion


Individualistic, any part of a whole
Holistic, the entire group or collection

Usage in Language

Often in queries and negations
Indicates full scope or entirety


Lack of restriction, openness
Comprehensiveness, totality

Grammatical Role

Singular reference
Plural reference

Anything and Everything Definitions


Any unspecified item or possibility.
You can ask me anything about the project.


All that is relevant or important.
This book covers everything about the topic.


Used to refer to a thing, no matter what.
I would do anything to make this work.


The whole amount or extent.
We lost everything in the fire.


Used in negations to mean nothing.
I don't know anything about that subject.


All things; the total of all available.
Everything in this store is on sale.


Used in offering or requesting something not specific.
Is there anything I can help you with?


Referring to the whole situation.
After the discussion, everything was clearer.


Any single thing of any kind.
I didn't find anything useful in the book.


All-inclusive term for all matters.
Everything went according to plan.


To any degree or extent; at all
They aren't anything like last year's team.


(literally) All the things under discussion.
I checked the list again and everything is done.
Thank you for everything you've done for us.


Something or someone of importance
"You had to be something to start with, and Jeremy never was anything" (Anne Tyler).


Many or most things.
I did everything today - washed the dishes, cut the lawn, did the laundry.


(colloquial) A state of well-being (from all parts of the whole).
She wasn't feeling well this morning but now everything is fine.
Since the company lost its best customer everything has gotten worse.


(colloquial) Considerable effort.
It took everything in me to resist the temptation to skip work on my birthday.


(colloquial) The most important thing.
I can't believe I made it in time - timing is everything!


Whatever pertains to the subject under consideration; all things.
More wise, more learned, more just, more everything.


How is anything used in a sentence?

Anything is often used in questions or offers, like "Can I get you anything?"

What does anything mean?

Anything refers to any one of a number of items or possibilities.

Does everything include people?

It can, depending on context, but usually refers to things or situations.

Can anything be used to refer to people?

Generally, anything refers to things or situations, not people.

What does everything mean?

Everything means all things collectively or the whole amount.

Can everything be used in questions?

Yes, like "Did you check everything?"

Is anything always singular?

Yes, anything is treated as singular in grammar.

Can anything be used in positive statements?

Yes, but it's more common in questions and negatives.

Is everything always plural?

Everything is treated as singular in grammar but refers to plural entities.

Can anything mean 'no matter what'?

Yes, as in "I'll do anything to succeed."

Is everything all-inclusive?

Yes, it includes all items or aspects being discussed.

Is everything used in informal contexts?

Yes, it's common in both formal and informal contexts.

How do context and tone affect the use of anything and everything?

Context and tone can greatly change their meanings and implications.

Can anything be replaced with something in sentences?

Sometimes, but it changes the meaning to a more specific reference.

Are there any idiomatic uses of anything and everything?

Yes, like "anything goes" or "everything under the sun."

Is everything used in negative statements?

It's less common but can be used, like "Not everything is as it seems."

Does anything have a limit?

No, it implies a range of possibilities without limitation.

Can anything be used to express willingness?

Yes, like "I'm ready to do anything required."

Does everything imply completeness?

Yes, it implies that nothing is left out.

How does everything differ in implication from anything?

Everything implies the totality of things, while anything is about open possibilities.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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