The indefinite pronouns are:

 

somebody someone something
anybody anyone anything
nobody no one nothing
everybody everyone everything

 

We use indefinite pronouns to refer to people or things without saying exactly who or what they are. We use pronouns ending in -body or -one for people, and pronouns ending in -thing for things:

Everybody enjoyed the concert.
I opened the door but there was no one at home.
It was a very clear day. We could see everything.

We use a singular verb after an indefinite pronoun:

Everybody loves Sally.
Everything was ready for the party.

When we refer back to an indefinite pronoun we normally use a plural pronoun:

Everybody enjoyed the concert. They stood up and clapped.
I will tell somebody that dinner is ready. They have been waiting a long time.

We can add -'s to an indefinite pronoun to make a possessive.

They were staying in somebody’s house.
Is this anybody’s coat?

We use indefinite pronouns with no- as the subject in negative clauses (not pronouns with any.)

Anybody didn’t come >> Nobody came.

We do not use another negative in a clause with nobody, no one or nothing:

Nobody came.
Nothing happened.

We use else after indefinite pronouns to refer to people or things in addition to the ones we already mentioned.

All the family came, but no one else.
If Michael can’t come we’ll ask somebody else.
So that's eggs, peas and chips. Do you want anything else?

Exercise

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hello Kirk and Peter M.,

What is the difference between "anybody" and "somebody"?
Which is correct: "Can somebody help?" or "Can anybody help?"

Thank you. Greetings from Indonesia

Hello widiatnala,

The difference is not simple and not something which can be expressed in a simple definition. Both mean 'a person, it doesn't matter who', but we tend to use 'somebody' when the expectation is that there is a person, and 'anybody' when we are suggesting there many not be a person. This is the same as with the use of 'some' and 'any' generally.

This often means that 'somebody' occurs most often in affirmative sentences and 'anybody' in negative sentences and questions.

In your examples, the first sentence (with 'somebody') suggests that the speaker believes there is a person capable of helping, and is asking if they are willing. The second sentence (with 'anybody') suggests that the speaker is less optimistic about getting help because they don't know if there is a person or not.

It is a subtle distinction, I'm afraid.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a doubt, there is a very famous film with Marylin Monroe titled "Some like it hot", well, shouldn't it be "Some likes it hot"?

thanks in advance

Hello Rich22,

In that title, 'Some' means 'Some people' so 'like' is actually correct. It's great that you spotted this! 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the lesson. I am little confused on what personal pronoun is to be used in the sentence given below:

Everybody enjoyed the concert. They stood up and clapped.
I will tell somebody that dinner is ready. They have been waiting a long...

In above sentences, the indefinite pronoun 'everybody' and 'somebody' is replaced by pronoun "they".

Isn't 'everybody' and 'somebody' singular indefinite pronoun ??

Hello Lopa Shigaki,

Indefinite pronouns always take singular verbs, as you say. However, they describe multiple individuals and so when we replace them with regular pronouns we use 'they' rather than 'he', 'she' or 'it'. It does seem rather inconsistent, doesn't it, but that is how the language works!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir
I have a question. what is the difeerence between someone and somebody.
Thank you

Hi, there is no difference between 'someone' and 'somebody' in meaning but 'someone' is more formal.

Hello reshu sinha,

There is no difference in use. 'Someone' is perhaps slightly more formal and suited to formal writing, but both are quite common in everyday speech.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I'm really loving this website.
Well... I would like to ask about the exercise Indefinite Pronouns 1: 'I don’t want to talk to Stewart. I don’t have * to say to him.' We have to choose anybody or anything, but can we use some negative with any-? Or the rules are different of no- and negative clauses?

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