Of anyone I know

rightnow

Senior Member
Spanish
The American Heritage Dictionary reads
Anyone is often used in place of the more logical everyone in sentences like the most intelligent person of anyone I know.

In our 2017 ballot, the Usage Panel accepted it 55 percent to 45 percent, while rejecting the supposedly correct alternative 69 percent to 31 percent.
Presumably an idiomatic reading, “compared to any single person I know,” outweighs the literal reading “out of all the people I know.”

The implication of a one-by-one mental comparison may explain why the expression survives.
However, I find the explanation contradictory, because the meaning "of everyone I know" is also on the lines of “out of all the people I know.”

Also, I can't fully grasp what the author means by a "one-by-one mental comparison."
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, but 'everyone' is considering all the people together as a single entity/crowd; 'anyone' considers all the people singly (any single one).

    Although we don't actually think like this, if you want to justify using 'anyone' in this sentence you can think of it as meaning 'comparing this person's (X) intelligence to the intelligence of everyone I know, one at at time. Is X more intelligent than Jane? (yes); is X more intelligent than John? (yes); is X more intelligent than my mother (yes); etc etc etc.
     

    rightnow

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, but 'everyone' is considering all the people together as a single entity/crowd; 'anyone' considers all the people singly (any single one).
    Then to use anyone the sentence be comparative, for example A more intelligent person than anyone I know.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Then to use anyone the sentence be comparative, for example A more intelligent person than anyone I know.

    That would be exclusionary: the "more intelligent person" doesn't belong to the group of "people I know".

    X is the most intelligent person of anyone I know.
    X is the most intelligent person of (among) everyone I know.
     

    rightnow

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    That would be exclusionary: the "more intelligent person" doesn't belong to the group of "people I know".

    X is the most intelligent person of anyone I know.
    X is the most intelligent person of (among) everyone I know.
    I do not get your point
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    A more intelligent person than anyone I know. Strictly speaking, this means "A more intelligent person than any of the people I know: all the people I know are less intelligent than this person (who is not known to me)".
     
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