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Nobody, No one

Nobody, No one
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Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Imtiyaz in India about the words “nobody” and “no one.”


My name is md imtiyaz from India bihar state. My question is that what is difference between nobody and no one?


Thank you for writing, Imtiyaz. I'm happy to answer your question.

“Nobody” and “no one” are indefinite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns refer to people in a general and open way. “No” is part of both “nobody” and “no one.” That tells us there are not any people.

For example,

No one knows his name.

Nobody knows his name.

Both sentences mean there is not one person who knows his name.

There are no major differences in the meanings of “no one” and “nobody.” Both are treated as singular nouns.

But there are some small differences in how and when we use the two. “Nobody” is more informal. It is used mostly in spoken English. “No one” is a little more formal. It is used more in written English.

“Nobody” can also be used as a noun in English. For example,

He was just a nobody five years ago.

This is an unkind way to say that someone is not important or not well-known.

We hope this explanation helps you, Imtiyaz.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Gena Bennett.

Gena Bennett wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

indefiniteadj. not clearly defined; general

refer tophrasal verb. to speak or write about someone or something