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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 LuigiM,

Both of these pronouns are used when we do not know or do not care who the person is. As a rule of thumb, usually 'somebody' is used in affirmative sentences and 'anybody' is used in negatives and questions. For example:

I need somebody to help me. [a person - not any particular person]

Can anybody help me? [it doesn't matter who it is]

Note that this is not a fixed rule. We could also say 'Can somebody help me?', which would suggest that we expect a positive answer, for example.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you

Hello everyone.
I´ve got a question. Why we add "s" to the verb when we´re using Everybody or Everyone?
I´m very confuse because I think that those indefinite pronouns mean "They"
Thanks for your help.... and have a nice day!!!!

Hello Alicia,

Yes, indefinite pronouns like everybody or everyone take a singular verb. I'm afraid I can't give you a good reason why, although I'm sure linguists know of one. English just is a bit strange sometimes.

Best wishes,

Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
We use a singular verb after an indefinite pronoun: " Everybody loves Sally ".
So 'love' is singular verb, is not? What is plural of 'love'.
Thank sir

The indefinite pronouns like everyone and everybody refer to “every person”. Grammarians actually agree that these words (everyone, everybody, no one, nobody, someone etc.) are Singular; therefore we use a singular verb form.

Hello Johnny,

'Love' here is a verb, not a noun, so it does not have a 'plural form' in that sense. If the subject is plural then the verb agrees, so we use 'love' rather than 'loves':

Everybody loves Sally.

They love Sally.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What's the meaning of "but no one else"? In the 1st sentence regarding else
thank you

Hello aarushmom,

It means 'but no-one apart from that'. If I say 'John and Sue can come but no-one else' then I mean only John and Sue, and no other people.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is this right?
There is on one could help you.
Or
There are on one could help you.

Please, explain it. Thanks.

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