12.10 Differences between every(body / -one), somebody and anybody


Du kannst jeden (einzelnen) im Raum fragen. = You can ask everyone / every single one in the room.
Du kannst jeden (irgendjemand) im Raum fragen. = You can ask anyone in the room.
Du kannst jemanden im Raum fragen. = You can ask someone in the room.
 

The difference between everyone (everybody) and anyone (anybody) is quite hard to make in German. For both usually the word jeder (jede/n) is used. If you want to make very sure that you mean every single one you can say jeden einzelnen. If you want to stress that it is anybody then you can use irgendjemand.

  every = jeder/jede/jedes
If talking about every, it means that certain qualities are inherent to every member of a certain group. It can refer to persons and things, events or others. The emphasis is nevertheless on the single member of the group, otherwise we would say all = alle.

Jeder weiß, was zu tun ist. = Every one knows what to do.
Jeden Tag kaufe ich ein Eis. = Every day I buy ice cream.
Er hat jeden (einzelnen) gefragt, aber niemand antwortete. = He has asked every single one, but no one answered.
Jedes Kind möchte spielen. = Every child wants to play.

  anyone = jeder / irgend jemand

Anyone is quite a flexible pronoun. It can be translated as jeder in substantival meaning (in place of a noun). As jeder it means no one special. If anyone is used to describe one person that is at the point of speaking unknown then it should be translated with irgendjemand (also in place of a noun).

Das ist nichts besonderes, jeder könnte das. = This is nothing special, anyone could do it.
Du kannst jeden fragen, keiner wird es dir sagen. = You can ask anyone, nobody will tell you.
Jeder kann lernen, Auto zu fahren. = Anyone can learn to drive a car.

Hat irgendjemand meine Katze gesehen? = Has anyone seen my cat?
Warum würde irgendjemand so etwas tun wollen? = Why would anyone want to do this?


  somebody = jemand / irgendjemand / irgendwer

With somebody we mean one certain person that is either unknown or not defined more closely. It is translated to jemand (substantival use) or irgendjemand (also in substantival use) if you want to stress the fact that it doesn't really matter who it is. Irgendwer can actually be used the same way like irgendjemand.

If we say anybody (irgendwer / irgendwen) we put an emphasis on the fact that there is a person, about which we don't know anything in particular. If we compare the following phrases, we will see that there is a difference between jemand and irgendjemand (even though, it is hard to translate this subtle difference.)

Jemand könnte Gitarre spielen = Somebody could play the guitar.
Irgendjemand könnte Eier kaufen. = Somebody could buy eggs.
Ich denke, irgendjemand weiß es. = I think somebody knows.
Ist irgendwer zu Hause? = Is there someone at home?







contact privacy statement imprint