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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


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


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.


Hello uphie,

There is a difference, yes.  Spelt together, these words are indefinite pronouns, used in the way described on this page.  When written as two words, they are used as those words.  For example:

There is somebody at the door. [a person is knocking]

I saw some body in the forest. [an unidentified body was lying in the forest]

'Sometimes' is different to this, and is an adverb of time (specifically, of frequency) rather than an indefinite pronoun.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr. Peter,

Sir, I still don't understand this. from your examples above, Can I say:

There is some body at the door.

I saw somebody in the forest.

If No, please what is the different from your own examples and mine?

Hello iphie,

'Somebody' means 'a person, but I don't know who it is' [once we see them, we may recognise them, of course]

'Some body' means 'a body - i.e. not a living person, or a person who is unconscious'

It is possible for us to see both of these!  However, the phrase 'at the door' means that someone is waiting to come in, not that they are simply positioned near the door. Therefore, only 'somebody' is possible here.  

In the forest we might see 'somebody'.  It is also possible, if unlikely, that we might see 'some body' - if, for example, we were describing a murder mystery or something similar.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hey Mr. Peter,
I understand that now, but still need clarification on "everyday and every day"

And please is this sentence correct:
He called to tell me that I should please give him sometime to settle everything.

Hello iphie,

The adverbial phrase 'every day' means we do something each day without missing any.  For example: 'I go running every day with my dog.'

The adjective 'everyday' means something is normal or commonplace and nothing special.  For example: 'He wore a simple everyday coat.'

Many people - including many native speakers - confuse these.

Correcting sentences for users is not something we do on LearnEnglish because we simply don't have time to deal with all of them.  The correct version of your sentence would probably be 'He called to ask me to give him some time to settle everything.'

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

"somebody has no my number "
Is there any grammatical mistake in this sentence ???

Hi adil2345,

Your sentence isn't correct, I'm afraid.  It looks to me like you're trying to make a negative sentence, in which case the correct sentence would be 'Somebody does not have my number'.  However, that would be a rather unusual sentence to make - after all, I would imagine many people do not have your number!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hi peter m,
Thanks for your answer.You have cleared my doubt.

can someone help me to find out the difference between "anyone" and "anybody",
Thanking you in anticipation

Hello zouine,

There is no difference in meaning between anyone and anybody. In British English, anyone is more commonly used in writing, and anybody is used a bit more frequently in speaking, but people speak and write both words without any difference in meaning.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team