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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

Dear The LearnEnglish Team,

1. Won't they be giving us instructions?
2. Won't they be advising us?

sir, which one is the correct from above sentences.
If there is a wrong one please explain me why?

1: Every cars in the shop are nice
2: Every car in this shop is nice?

Since you mentioned we use a singular verb after an indefinite pronoun.

Thanks.

Hi Announcement,

Is this a question? Sentence 1 is not correct, as 'every' is only used with singular nouns. Sentence 2 is almost correct – it needs to be put in the structure of a question, e.g. 'Is every car in this shop nice?' or changed to a statement: 'Every car in this shop is nice.'

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

Please help me in choosing the correct sentence.
1. Could you please assign this task to someone in the team? OR
2. Could you please assign this task to anyone in the team?

which one is the correct and appropriate sentence to use in the emails?

Thanks,
Ananth Krishna.

Hello Ananth Krishna,

The first sentence is correct. In requests we usually use 'some...' rather than 'any...' (something, someone, somewhere etc. rather than anything, anyone, anywhere etc.).

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M,

I used to think that in question you must use "any". Could you explain more about that, please?

Thank in advance.

Hello Ferorun,

In requests it is quite common to use 'some' rather than 'any'. For example, we say 'Could you lend me some money?' rather than 'Could you lend me any money?'

In questions about whether or not something exists or is present, we can also use 'some'. Compare the following:

Is there some sugar in the pot? [The speaker expects the answer 'yes']

Is there any sugar in the pot? [The speaker thinks the answer may be 'no']

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teacher,

Can you explain for me why we use 'some' and 'any' with an uncountable noun in two above sentences. Thank you!

Hi vietlam248,

We can use 'some' and 'any' with both countable and uncountable nouns:

I have some sugar.

I have some apples.

Do you have any sugar?

I don't have any apples.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you

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