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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 my colleagues, I'd like to ask you a question. My question is : Is everybody in the classroom ? How can we answer this question ? Can we say ''Yes, everybody is in the classroom'' / ''Yes, they are in the classroom ?'' or ''Yes, he / she is in the classroom ?'' Which one is the correct answer ? Thanks a lot for your help.

Hello Lokman Bozkurt,

Both the first and the second answers are correct and possible. Indefinite pronouns like 'everybody' take a singular verb, but when we replace them with a pronoun such as 'they' we need a plural verb; we cannot replace 'everybody' with a singular verb and so the third answer is incorrect.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers.
Is this sentence correct? I mean the use of the indefinite pronoun (nothing). If it is false please tell me the reason?

* I can see nothing under the chair.

Hello Karzan_Camus,

Yes, that is grammatically fine. You could also say '...can't see anything...'

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Whats the difference between somenody and someone? What should b their usage in sentence? Same question is for anybody and anyone

Hello sanafarrukh,

There is no difference in meaning. Some people might say the words ending in '-body' are a little more conversational and perhaps less used in writing than spoken English, but I think the difference is minimal.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I think I got it. Was everybody having a good time? Yes, they were. Is it ok?

Hello Gabriel868,

Yes, that sentence is correct.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'am having a good time here.

Hello, I was wondering why it is used like, for example ; "somebody save me" while this is an indefinite pronoun. So why do people use both "somebody saves my life", and "somebody save me"?

Thank you for reading.

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