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Indefinite pronouns

Level: beginner

The indefinite pronouns are:

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

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.

Indefinite pronouns 1

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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.

Be careful!

In negative clauses, we use pronouns with no-, not pronouns with any-:

Nobody came. (NOT Anybody didn't come.)

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

Nobody came. (NOT Nobody didn't come.)
Nothing happened. (NOT Nothing didn't happen.)

Indefinite pronouns 2

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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 else after indefinite pronouns to refer to other people or things:

All the family came, but no one else.
If Michael can't come, we'll ask somebody else.
I think this is somebody else's coat.

Comments

It's really helpful.

thank you this helped me understand them

An indefinite pronoun does not refer to any specific person, thing or amount. It is vague and "not definite". Some typical indefinite pronouns are: all, another, any, anybody/anyone, anything, each, everybody/everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody/someone.

hi

Hello,
Let me see if I got this correctly, indefinite pronouns can be singular and plural. We treat them as singular when we think of the verb after them, but we treat them as plural when we refer back to them?
Thank you.

Hello H_L,

That's quite right. Well done!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This is the first time I study grammar from here; I find it very clear and straightforward. Also, whenever I don't understand something, you help me clear things up.
Thank you, I appreciate your help greatly.

What is the question form of this sentence. Nobody wants to go with him. Who wants to go with him? Or Who doesn't want to go with him? Thank you

Hello Natavan Gojayeva,

There are several possible questions. The most likely are questions about 'nobody':

Does anybody want to go with him?

Does nobody want to go with him?

Who wants to go with him?

 

You could also ask about other elements in the sentence:

What does nobody want?

Who does nobody want to go with?

What does nobody want to do with him?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

"If Michael can't come, we'll ask somebody else." in this sentence, can we use "someone" instead of "somebody"?
Thanks.

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