April 14, 2009

Language tips: anyone & any one, preventive & preventative, lend & loan

Posted in anyone/any one, lend/loan, loan and lend, preventive/preventative at 8:08 pm by dlseltzer

Today, we have one new tip and we’ll revisit a couple of older tips that were requested by readers.

Tip 1: Anyone or any one

Last week, I asked:

Can anyone think of an instance where in conjunction with is a better (or more necessary) choice than with?

When I was reading it over later, I paused to think – should that be ‘Can anyone think…?’ or ‘Can any one think…,’ (yeah, I really do think about stuff like this, sad but true) and thus, this week’s first tip.

Anyone refers to any person. Any one refers to individuals or any one of a group. I know that sounds a bit strange, and it may seem that the definitions are the same, but they are not. The difference is when you say any one, you are only talking about an individual person or thing. When you say anyone, you are talking about one or multiple people. Some examples may help.

I know the whole class was invited to graduation; do you know if anyone is going?

In this case, anyone refers to an indefinite number of people. One person, a few people, or the whole class may be going to graduation.

I’m baffled; any one of those instructors could be the murderer.

In this case, we are referring to just one of the group of instructors. Only one instructor can be the murderer. HINT: If of follows one, you should always use any one.

Another difference between the two is that anyone is always referring to people while any one can refer to a person or a thing.

Look at the scarves, and pick out any one that you like.

The same rules holds true for everyone and every one. Everyone refers to everybody. Every one refers to all of the individuals. Some examples:

Everyone who applied for an administrative supplement was awarded one.

Here, everyone is referring to all of the people who applied; it could be one person or 100.

I want every one of you to know how pleased I am with the outcome of the experiment.

In this example, every one refers to each of the people present.

Those cookies were so good, I ate every one.

Here, the writer is emphasizing the good taste of the cookies by indicating that each and every distinct cookie was eaten. This is akin to saying, I ate every single one!

Incidentally, it is NOT correct to substitute anyone for everyone in this kind of sentence:

She is the smartest person of anyone I know. WRONG

She is the smartest person of everyone I know. RIGHT

And finally, remember that everyone requires a singular verb.

Everyone has to decide whether or not to write a challenge grant.

And that’s it. Any questions anyone?

Tip 2: Preventative or preventive, lend and loan

Judy writes:

What about preventive and preventative? I think the former is better – but I see the latter more and more frequently.

Alas, Judy is correct. Preventative is not exactly wrong but it is non-standard and is viewed by many as a corruption of preventive. As a result, we should avoid using it. There are a couple of reasons to not use preventative: 1) preventive is shorter and simpler which we know is preferable in writing  (think pretentious writing), and 2) since preventative is not really standard, when you use it, you run the risk of the reader thinking that you are mistaken.

Some people use preventive as an adjective and preventative as a noun.

As a preventive measure, I want you to take aspirin daily. Aspirin is a preventative against heart attacks.

If I were going to use preventative, I think I would make that distinction as well. But your best bet is not to use preventative at all.

(See also WLUT, April 10, 2008, https://languagetips.wordpress.com/category/preventivepreventative/)

Alan writes:

Traditionally, lend is the verb; loan is the noun.  Loan is frequently misused as a verb.

Alan is correct, but I have to say, this issue falls into the ‘life is too short’ category for me. The use of loan as a verb is so ubiquitous that I would not try to dissuade someone from using it that way. There is an exception, however. You can use both lend and loan as verbs when you are talking about a physical thing:

Will you loan me your car? I’m going to lend five dollars to your brother. Is he loaning her his cell phone?

All of these sentences are referring to actual things, i.e., your car, five dollars, and his cell phone. If you are talking about something figurative rather than physical, you can only use lend as a verb.

The music lent an air of mystery to the performance. The baby crying lends a touch of sadness to the proceeding. The laughter lent a sense of silliness to the normally serious lecture.

In all other contexts, I wouldn’t worry about using loan as a verb, but keep in mind that you may be talking to or writing for someone who is a stickler for proper usage. It just won’t be me.

(See also WLUT October 28, 2008, https://languagetips.wordpress.com/category/loan-and-lend/)



1 Comment »

  1. Chris said,

    Thanks for clearing up preventative and preventive. That one had me going sometimes.

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