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No one vs. noone (vs. no-one)

While phrases like no body, some body, and some one have evolved into the compound words nobody, somebody, and someone, the similar phrase no one has never gone this route. A quick internet search reveals that noone is surprisingly common, but the two-word form and the hyphenated form (no-one) remain far more common in books and in edited publications.

The hyphenated form, no-one, is especially common outside North America—it is almost completely absent from 21st -century U.S. and Canadian writing—but the unhyphenated form prevails everywhere by a significant margin. This is the case despite the fact that many English reference sources list the hyphenated form as the standard spelling or recommend it above the alternatives.


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Examples

No one on board was seriously hurt, but authorities were concerned about the wellbeing of the whale. [Sydney Morning Herald]

It’s a sad thing when no one loves you, most of all if you are a new vehicle being shunned by the buying public. [Globe and Mail]

But the fact that these companies lack an IT department does not mean there is no one looking after technology. [Financial Times]

President Obama meets with Senate leaders, but no one wants to back away from tough stances on taxes. [Los Angeles Times]

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Comments

  1. Velvet Android says:

    I generally hyphenate: “no-one” – is there much anecdotal evidence of this practice elsewhere?

    • Professor says:

      I’ve never seen no-one ever before. Not once. I see noone, and that’s clearly wrong. I figure it’s about the equivalent of people using there/their/they’re incorrectly. Problem is since those really are words, spell check doesn’t pick them up. Noone looks strange, and will be picked up with spell check. Only other choice is no one. On a side note, spellcheck isn’t a word.

      • Grammarist says:

        If you are in the U.S. (as we are), this would explain why you haven’t encountered “no-one.” It’s much more common in the U.K., Australia, etc. Here’s a U.K. Google News search where you can see lots of examples (along with many instances of the unhyphenated form): http://goo.gl/KbUVO

      • We were taught to spell it “noone” in CA, USA schools in the 70’s and 80’s.

        • I’ve always thought it was noone as well. Just like alright is one word, yet everywhere I look people spell it all right, which is not alright. :)

          • Tristan Downing says:

            ‘All right’ is the correct form. ‘Alright’ is not. Americans, by their nature, opt for the latter.

          • Vengeance says:

            Then in America “alright” is the correct form and not “all right”. Just like Aluminum is the correct word and Aluminium is not. Spellcheck even has a red line under Aluminium right now. There is no red line under alright. :)

          • I would argue that each is correct in informal writing, when used in the proper context. If all the answers are correct, then they are all right. Alright would indicate okay, satisfactory.

          • I never use ‘okay’. I don’t even like the way it looks. I always stick with ‘ok’ (and fight with my autocorrect to keep it that way!)

          • Crystal Sears-Woll says:

            You will find that if you capitalize “OK”, spellcheck will not pick up on it.

          • lolzabunch says:

            I have always understood “all right” as the correct in either context (and to the previous comments, I’m American). Example “everything is all right” being the same basic things as “all is right with the world”. One problem that I think we run into is that we say, “this is the UK way” vs. “this is the American way” without realizing that there are vastly different ways of speaking within America. This is less true as we grow more and more into the internet but some phrases will make no sense at all in one region of the states while being perfectly understandable in others. Spelling and pronunciation both differ based on whether you are in the south, the southwest, the heartlands, the west coast, in New England, or Florida, or wherever.

          • GoatGuy says:

            When in the context of all the group being described as right, then yes, you are right. When in the context of a thing or situation being right without smirch, then alright is pretty accurate. Of course the interjection alright stands on its own and by rights should never be ripped asunder by pointlessly pin-headed orthographically fundamentalist grammarians. (I’ve always wanted to use those words in a sentence!)

            GoatGuy

          • Tell me more of your fascinating insights into the nature of these ‘Americans’ you speak of….

          • Major Tom says:

            Those are 2 different words lol

          • Madeleine says:

            All right is two words.

          • Vengeance says:

            Alright is one word that is completely different than all right as two words. Beth already explained it satisfactorily and you still reply wrongly?

          • Technically, “alright” is incorrect in formal writing, but acceptance of this error is so common that people have begun to regard it as correct, just like the words “alot” and “sophmore.” It carries the exact same meaning as all right, because it is just a wrongly shortened version. It’s just that so many people are too lazy to type that extra l and space that it has become a part of our Internet vernacular. A bit passive aggressive, are we? :)

          • Vengeance says:

            No, alright and all right do not and should not “carry the exact same meaning” any more than all together/altogether or all ready/already.

            “The kids are all right” means they are all correct. “The kids are alright” means that they’re okay. If someone gets hurt, you don’t ask them if they’re correct. 8^P

            Alright is in the Oxford English Dictionary and has been taught as the correct spelling(for it’s meaning) in schools for many decades.

          • Leni Nawocam says:

            NB: Apostrophe fail: (for its meaning)…

          • What are you talking about?

          • The possessive form of it is “its” with no apostrophe. The apostrophe is used only when forming the contraction of it is = it’s.

          • Yes, and alright is one. You are a very good counter!

        • Yes. I was taught it is always spelled “noone” and “no one” was always marked incorrect. I’ve never seen “no-one” and have no idea why it would use a hyphen.

          • JOHN SHEFFNER MARC says:

            The hyphen helps the eye to avoid mis-reading the word as “noon”. (There is a family name Noone, pronounced noon.) Even spelling “no one” as two separate words makes more sense than “noone”.

        • Melody Kubiak says:

          As were we in MN, USA in the 60’s and 70’s.

          • GoatGuy says:

            Parenthetically, isn’t it interesting (and odd) how the 20th century innovated so many spelling conventions … some of which persist to today, and others which have been swept aside, like noone vs. no one?

            English is a remarkable language this way. Fortunately, I think it is beginning to bifurcate into a pair of similar, but distinct languages. American-sphere and British-sphere English.

            Question is, by 2100 … will the fission become irreversible, or given the boundary eroding nature of The Internet, will it not?

            GoatGuy

          • I don’t think we’re on a track to bifurcation, GoatGuy. It’s always possible, but I think with youTube, BBC America, American shows aired in the UK, and internet message boards and the like, the trend could very well be the reverse.

            I remember reading an article about how London, once the linguistic center of the English language (meaning that changes to the English Language tended to radiate out of London and affect other regions; as opposed to other regions affecting the way Londoners speak), had been eclipsed by Los Angeles. This was the early 1990s.

            My understanding is that languages evolved much faster before the stabilizing effects of standardized spelling, the printing press, radio, television, etc. Today we have more of these stabilizing technologies than ever before.

            I think what we have to fear most is the entire English-speaking world converging on 1337 speak and Twitterisms.

            Will future generations only know the pound sign as ‘hash-tag’? Will U become an accepted variant of you? Will R become an accepted variant of are!?

            Noah Webster essentially created American spelling as we know it with his American Speller (aka Webster’s Blue-Back Speller). He’s no doubt the person who has had the largest impact on the way Americans spell. Samuel Johnson did the same in England with his dictionary. Before those two works, spelling was largely not standardized, a any glance at a reproduction of a work by Shaxsper (Shakespeare often spelled his name this way, I’m told) in his own handwriting will attest to.

            Will twitter, texting, and 1337 speak become our next global Johnson or Webster?

            Oh, the horror!!!!!

          • Thomas Ktwentyone says:

            Hollywood is fixing that for you – the Brit way of spelling is slowly dying – it’s just a lot of whinging from their side. English as a 2nd language folks are learning US English around the globe these days.
            Before you Commonwealthers start griping, English is my 2nd language, although 1st by now perhaps, and I started out with Brit spelling, but have over the years shifted to US English – with the exception of doubling a few consonants in verbs. I prefer “travelling” for example. :-)

        • GoatGuy says:

          Oddly, I don’t remember being taught “noone”, though I have seen it written that way in mainstream science fiction from the mid 1970s of California based authors.

          I think the true source of no one’s lack of fusion is that noon is a word by itself, which triggers our higher level Roman-character “recognizers” into seeing the noone part before the noone parts. If you consider someone, nobody, and nowhere, they don’t have more-common words built in front through the merger. Only noöne does.

          Y’all like the diaeresis above the second &omul;? I think that it is entirely appropriate, considering that naïve, naïvety, naïveté and naïf … all use it to indicated an unusual pronunciation for a pair of adjacent vowels. Like the unusual but hardly wrong continuüm, coërce, coöpt, daïs and reëlect.

          Just saying. Noöne … generalizes the living English language’s deep-seated Germanic allowance for word-fusion to abstract a compound idea into a single meme.

          [Said the man whistling into the hurricane!]

          GoatGuy

        • Interesting. I went to school in CA in the 80s and was definitely not taught to spell it that way.

        • Daniel Ess says:

          Not so during my Los Angeles Unified School District education experience — from about 1979 through 1991. I was taught “no one”. When I see someone use ” no-one”, I wonder if they still use “to-morrow” and “to-day” as well. When I see “noone”, I wonder if the writer mistakenly added an ” e”, or if they forgot a final, sixth letter… “r”.

        • Alan Wescoat says:

          Ah! Someone else who remembers this! I wound up in a heated argument in college over “noone”. There appears to be no verification that it ever was correct, as though the past has somehow changed while only a tiny handful of people ever remember “noone” ever having been correct. Back in college, when the point got pushed and I grabbed my dictionary, I was perplexed and deeply vexed to find such a straightforward and obvious word entirely missing. Despite decades of looking, I have yet to find it in print.

      • I didn’t do well in English class but “I’ve never seen no-one ever before” to me seems very wrong?

        • Is the fact that it looks like a double negative bothering you? Here, the word no-one is meant to mean just that; the word ‘no-one’. Usually when words are referred to as words and not as what they mean, people try to make it more clear (with italics, or what not), but strictly speaking, I don’t think it’s necessary to do so.

          Or is it the ‘never seen ever before’ construction that seems wrong? I’ll grant you, it’s redundant. By using the word never, we’re already saying that the act of seeing has not happened now or at any point before now… in other words; ever before. Never means not now nor ever before, so adding ‘ever before’ is like saying, ‘Please RSVP’ (RSVP stands for a French sentence that means please respond; you don’t need to add another please).

          So it sounds a little odd because of its redundancy, but I think it is grammatically correct.

      • Noone does look strange, but I think “noone” is a lot like “alot” in that people think they are words when they are not. “No-one” is something I haven’t seen much of either, but considering how millennials have literally destroyed language because they write like illiterates on their iPhones I’m impressed that I do not see “no1” more often.
        Pssst: Hey world, it’s not 2005 anymore. Your phone has a full keyboard on it.

      • dellers says:

        How is it clearly wrong? Someone is one word, yet no one is two. If something is pronounced as one word it should be written as one. It’s pronounced as noone (unless you read that the same way you read moose), but written as no one. The latter would logically be pronounced differently. We have the same inconsistencies in Norwegian as well. Almost every possible word is written as one here, but some are written in two or even three for no good reason.
        Spell check is another fine example of how illogical it is not to write things as one word. Spell check is logically pronounced like if you’re asking someone “can you spell (the word) check?”.

      • Leni Nawocam says:

        Spellcheck is a word. It’s just a neologism and hasn’t been around for long.

      • Nicole Constance says:

        I love the side note.

    • Your picture looks really creepy. If you look at it as a right side up face (and quint your eyes a bit), your eyes are the mouth, your mouth/chin area is the nose and the door know in the background is the eye. Looks sorta like the red man from the later Satr Wars movie, like episode 2.

      • Velvet Android says:

        Cheers Chris, what a charming comment — “creepy”, indeed. Hmmph. Do you mean I look like Darth Maul?! But fair enough, I’ve stared at it for a while now trying to see what you meant and suddenly the ‘face’ thing popped into view; I suppose if you’re not expecting the actual face to be upside-down then you could imagine you were looking at something completely different for a moment, especially when the picture is this small. Don’t know what the ‘eye’ is; I was on a bus, so whatever it is it’s not a doorknob. To return to the topic somewhat, I can safely say no-one (or, if you’re in North America, no one) else has ever made this observation before!

        • Yes, I was thinking of Darth Maul. I was also typing like a 2nd grader. I lost feeling in the pinky about a month ago and my typing now sucks. Have a great one.

          • Velvet Android says:

            Sorry to hear that, though glad I was on the right wavelength Maul-wise — hope your finger improves soon Chris…

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      google fight says “no one”

  2. According to Fowler’s Modern English Usage no-one is desirable, no one is in the same category as no two and no three, and noone is ugly and confusing.

  3. ‘noone’ looks so silly that it can’t be right. ‘nunie’? ‘noon’ with a fancy-fanny ‘e’? a Dutch word meaning whatever? an assumed Hollywood name for someone whose first name is ‘Hy’?

  4. Randy Gifford says:

    How about “knowone”? I saw this on a facebook post and my jaw just dropped.

  5. RealHoopyFrood says:

    I have no idea why “no one” would need a hyphen.

    • gannamede says:

      I agree, it is now standard practice to use “no one” instead of the classic “noone,” for obvious reasons.

    • ReidSwan101 says:

      I can think of a few examples that could possibly justify it. For example, “No one read into that” – is the subject “No one” (verb read) or “no one read” (noun read)? No-one would clarify the ambiguity, but such cases are so specific they’re almost ridiculous to consider

      • What is this noun version of read, you speak of? If you think ‘no one read’ can be a subject, do you think ‘into’ can be a verb?

        I think maybe you’re trying to come up with two contrasting sentences such as:

        1. No one read this. (no one is he subject, read is a verb, ‘this’ is a pronoun direct object.)
        2. No one read newspaper is worth more than twenty cents. (No one read newspaper is the subject, read is a participle modifying newspaper, one is an adjective modifying newspaper, ‘is’ is the verb, ‘worth more than twenty cents’ is the adjectival phrase describing the subject in the predicate.

        In 1, it’s clear that read is the verb, so ‘one’ cannot be an adjective. It’s the only choice for the subject; must be a pronoun here.

        In 2, it’s clear that one is modifying newspaper. It’s clearly an adjective; not a noun. Newspaper is the only noun in the subject.

        No ambiguity regarding the subject.

        The only ambiguity here is are we talking about read in the present tense (reed), or the past tense (red)? With this particular noun only context can solve that dilemma when it’s in print.

  6. Wesley Mark Eskildsen says:

    “Noone” should be a word. It deserves to be recognized as such. I feel the same way about “ain’t” and several other common mistakes.

  7. Ricky Smith says:

    Who is noone? Don’t you mean noonie?

  8. What about anyone or everyone? No-one (or no one) is virtually the logical opposite of both “anyone” and “everyone,” but it is the only of the three that has not been fused into one word… I can’t quite wrap my head around that fact, since “no one X does this” and “no one does this” express two COMPLETELY different tones. I’ve found a lot of responses to questions on this stating something along the line of “it’s less confusing to have it as two words, or hyphenated,” but the only really “confusing” thing I could think of would be confusing it with the word noon, which is a pretty poor reason, given that the first and last letters of a word, and the word’s general length have more to do with how your brain views the word at first glance (speed-reading, as some call it) than how “similar” it is to another word in spelling.

    There are plenty of other words that could (and arguably should) be changed to avoid confusion for much better reasons than this.

    If there is a better reason, please explain it to me because this is driving me a bit crazier than English normally does (especially since even Google thought I meant to say “noone,” since it’s apparently so commonly spelled that way, though somehow never got accepted into the language, despite that being the way words and spellings supposedly make their way into the language…).

  9. I have always used only no one. Also, Internet is capitalized.

    • Do also always capitalize “Telephone” and “Electric Service”? Perhaps you always capitalize “Tap Water”.

      • Bilbo Baggins says:

        In old English all nouns were capitalised, as they still are in German I believe. Capitalisation is not reserved for proper nouns, and since “internet” is not a proper noun, it should not be capitalsed.

        I am from the UK and was taught to use “no-one”. The hyphen exists because “noone” is messy, phonetically speaking, and “no one” does not necessarily mean “nobody” where “no-one” always means “nobody”.

        • Whether internet is a proper noun is the big debate. Those who favor the capital I, say it’s a proper noun. Those who favor the lower-case I, say it’s not.

    • Says who? Is there some authority enforcing this? Back in the 90s, the internet was this new thing that required capitalization. Over time, people drop the capital as words become more common place. It’s happened with other words too. Phonograph was capitalized back when it was a shiny new technology. More and more people are dropping the capital I. I say, good riddance.

  10. Hey, on a different topic, I came across this sentence: “Please do NOT NOT use the footpath” which would mean “Keep off the
    grass”

    Notwithstanding the double negative, the rule (Negative + Negative = Positive) would mean that the translation of the statement above is not “Keep off the grass” but rather “use the footpath.” Your thoughts?

  11. The Absolutely True Diary of a says:

    To change the topic,–double negative–I read this sentence: “Please do NOT NOT use the footpath” which would mean “Keep off the grass.”

    It’s obvously an odd construction but based on the double negative rule: Negative + Negative = Positive

    This meaning of the sentence should be “Use the foothpath.” Your thoughts!

  12. Chris Dodges - Im Always Right says:

    Sooo basically, say it however the hell we want… lol

  13. I always type “noone” automatically for some reason, then look at it and think ‘that doesn’t look right at all’, and ‘correct’ it to “no one”. “Alright” however looks alright enough to leave alone, but I’m not comfortable. “alot” also puzzles me; but why do I tend to type it that way?

    I envy people who are not in the least bit troubled by their respective spelling choices. What’s the matter with me?

    • GoatGuy says:

      You don’t type it for some reason except this:

      AnyoneEveryoneSomeoneNoone

      The abstraction fusing set designations (no, some, any, every) with the indefinite ‘one’ is easy on the mind. Just like all the same words with the indefinite-inanimate “body” suffix.

      AnybodyEverybodySomebodyNobody

      … Notwithstanding this, I still find myself using odd words that may or may not be real words, through similar abstractions. Everywhen ← (everywhere, everybody, everything). Time instead of place. After all, we have ‘whenever’.

      But I guess that odd one is just a linguistic contortionist.

      GoatGuy

      • The double o is the major problem. It suggests the wrong sound. Not insurmountable; we have words such as cooperate with the same issue. We used to use a diaeresis to separate the vowels, but we don’t use those anymore… that’s probably why noone isn’t going to gain traction. Looks too much like it should be pronounced noon.

  14. Writing “noone” just feels silly to me.

  15. I am struggling with the no one vs noone. I’m in Canada and I’ve never seen it as no-one. My parents/family is british so I have a lot of slang. So I’m going with “no one else” As in “I saw no one else for a week” opposed to “I saw no one, noone, or no-one for a week” Next debate – is it “dressing gown” or “housecoat”. I go with the first :)

  16. I was writing a poem and replaced woman with woe-man and hyphenated for emphasis and effect. I then hyphenated no-one for balance.

  17. Rishabh Jain says:

    I generally use noone. It seems so natural, so uncontrived. No one seems so…wrong, for lack of a better word, or if nothing else, closer to pseudo-colloquial Early Modern English. Noone can be, in itself, an independent word with a well-defined meaning. True, it’s a compounded word, but, as master linguist George Orwell himself contends, a compounded word can have a much more precise and exact meaning than the two words forming it.

    • And it is for exactly Orwell’s reason that I continue to use noöne as a fused word, and also use a fairly unusual number of hyphens to fuse words or phrases that are never nominally joined, but which work out well as compound ideas.

      My favorite bog standard words that have become joined over time are:

      insofar wherewithal heretoforehithertonotwithstandingnevertheless & nonethelesshereintoalbeitinasmuchwhosoever

      There are many more: over time, English language speakers and writers tend to fuse short phrases that take on the properties of a single idea or word. We are, after all, just as much a Germanic language as we pretend to be a Romantic one. And Anglo. JOIN AWAY, I say!

  18. all right He got his test questions all right.
    alright Are you feelin alright?
    two different things people! no one seems to get it! no-one!

  19. zzz…

  20. Carmen Woollums says:

    I personally think that is is supposed to be no one. It just doesn’t seem right the other way.

  21. It’s a completely pointless exercise to say which spelling is the “correct” version because that person’s answer is dependent on when and where he or she was raised. The English language is fluid and trivial. To derive natural order from a system that has none is a fool’s errand. “Why does A come before B in the alphabet?” It just does. It’s not right…it’s not wrong…it just is.

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