Everybody: Singular or Plural

Explore the mysteries of indefinite pronouns. Is "everyone" the same as "everybody"?

Bonnie Mills, Writing for
4-minute read
Episode #111

Everybody: Singular or Plural

Today we’ll be talking about indefinite pronouns such as everyone and somebody.

Everyone Versus Everybody

Lately, listeners have asked a lot of questions about indefinite pronouns, such as everyone. For example, Dean asks, “When is it appropriate to say everybody, and when is it proper to say everyone?” Well, Dean, the short answer to your question is that the words everyone and everybody are interchangeable. They both mean “every person,” so use whichever one sounds best in your particular sentence.

Everyone Versus Every One

And a cutely named listener from New York, Pinky, wants to know, “Is everyone one word or two?” Pinky, everyone can be two words or one word, but nine times out of ten it's one word. When you use it to mean the same thing as “all people,” then it’s one word.

Singular or Plural

When it comes to indefinite pronouns, grammarians disagree about whether words such as everyone and somebody are singular or plural when you use a pronoun to refer to them. Several listeners have recently asked about this conundrum.

For example, Linda asks, “Is everyone and, likewise, everybody singular or plural?” And Connie from College Station, Texas, asks, “Are you hanging in there on pronoun references to singular forms such as everyone and everybody?”


About the Author

Bonnie Mills, Writing for Grammar Girl

Bonnie Mills has been a copyeditor since 1996.