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Indefinite pronouns

Level: beginner

Some of the indefinite pronouns in English 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

Hello Donna,

There is no difference in meaning between the forms with '-one' and '-body'. In British English, the '-body' forms are a little more common in speaking and the '-one' forms are a little more common in writing, but they are equally correct in both writing and speaking.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I am confused with anyone and any one. Anyone is an indefinite pronoun but what's
any one? Is it also an indefinite pronoun or something else?
I will be highly obliged if you help me with this problem.
Thanks in advance.

Hello muslimbadshah,

'Anyone' is an indefinite pronoun and can be used as a subject, object etc. It is similar in use (though not meaning, obviously) to 'no-one', 'everyone', 'someone' etc.

'Any one' is similar, grammatically speaking to other phrases with 'any + noun', such as 'any book', 'any person', 'any car' etc. It has no particular grammatical role, even though it looks the same as the indefinite pronoun.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello learnenglish.britishcouncil.org staff,
Thank you for your pretty and useful job that you are doing here

you used this example: So that's eggs, peas and chips. Do you want anything else?

why did not you say "those are" instead of " that's"? As the words after it are plural.

Hi! "Somebody stole my wallet yesterday. They took it from my desk", why don't we use "he"?

Hello Niddle,

You could use 'he', but people often use 'they' for this, especially when they don't know if the person is a man or a woman. This is explained on our personal pronouns page.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

A) No one was present in the class except he was.
B) No one was present in the class except he.
C) No one was not present in the class but he.
D) No one was present in the class except he.
E) All of the above sentences are correct.
anyone can help me, which one is correct.plz

Hello adnanasifi,

This looks like homework! We are all teachers here at LearnEnglish, which means we appreciate the value of homework. Please tell us what you think the answer is and we can help you if your answer is incorrect.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear The LearnEnglish Team,

1. Will they get in to the bus?
2. Will they get on the bus?

Sir, are these sentences correct or not? Please explain me and tell me the opposite action for above sentences by using in sentences.

Hello Harsha,

Please be sure to try to find answers yourself before asking us here. We're happy to help, but we don't have the time to answer questions that users can find the answer to themselves with a little bit of work, nor can we usually provide the kind of personal instruction you're asking for here.

For example, by searching for 'get on' in the Cambridge Dictionary, it's not too difficult to find the entry for 'get on (sth)', which answers your question here.

As for your other question (below), both sentences are correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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