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Indefinite pronouns

Level: beginner

The indefinite pronouns 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 Md.Habibullah,

I'm afraid we don't provide the service of parsing full sentences, but if you search the internet for 'free sentence parser' there are several that work quite well.

What I can say is that 'I' is the antecedent of the relative pronoun 'who' here. 'It is I' is a copula so both 'It' and 'I' are subjects (technically 'I' is a subject complement).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.I have two questions,can we detect the person of indefinite pronouns like everybody,someone,anyone?
Everyone should be able to serve their county no matter who they are. In this sentence the why we are using their? We supposed to use his because it takes singular pronoun. Finally please clarify number of anticedents.Thanks in advance.

Hello Md.Habibullah,

Indefinite pronouns but their very nature do not refer to known individuals. They either refer to groups of unspecified people ('everyone') or to unspecified individuals ('someone'). They have no identified gender so we do not know if, for example, 'someone' refers to a man or a woman.

In your example 'their' is used as a singular pronoun. When we do not know the gender of the person we are talking about we can use 'he or she' or we can use 'they' (in whatever grammatical form is required). 'They' takes a plural verb but has a singular meaning here. For example, to talk about a doctor without specifying if it is a man or a woman we can say 'You should go to see a doctor about your cough. They'll give you something to make you feel better.'

We could use 'he or she' in your example but the style is much poorer:

Everyone should be able to serve his or her county no matter who he or she is.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Good evening
I have a question
It is correct I say : anybody comes

Hello katjuq,

Yes, that is grammatically fine. Of course, it's only a phrase and needs to be used in an appropriate context, probably as part of a larger sentence.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Everybody,anybody,somebody is they are 3rd person singular number?Explain if or not.Thanks.

Hello Md.Habibullah,

Indefinite pronouns take a singular verb, i.e. we say 'everybody has a mother', though we often use a plural possessive adjective (e.g. 'everybody loves their mother') because we use 'they' in its various forms when speaking about someone whose gender is not specified or is unknown.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I suggest...

• Write THE names of each of the boys.
(The boys have specific names)

"Name" as a singular noun on its own without a determiner sounds wrong because the word name is a countable noun. You can check this online at the Longman, MacMillan or Cambridge dictionary websites. The Cambridge Dictionary uses the notation [C] for countable nouns. Countable nouns usually must have a determiner when they are singular. A determiner can be an article, a possessive adjective or a number for example.

• Write THE name of each boy.


I understand that "something" is a singular indefinite pronoun. May I know then, if "something" can be used to refer to plural nouns? As in "Something is those flowers". "Flowers" here is a plural noun, so would it be right to say "Something" is "those flowers", i.e. "Something = those flowers"?


Hello Tim,

Yes, 'something' is treated as singular, so it is followed, for example, by a singular verb. 'Something is those flowers' is grammatically correct, but I'm afraid I have no idea as to what it could mean. It'd be like saying 'the dog is those flowers', which doesn't make sense to me.

Perhaps if you're looking at a piece of abstract art and believe some element of it represents flowers, you could say this, but otherwise I'm having a hard time thinking of an instance when it would make sense. If you have something in mind, by all means please feel free to ask us about it, however.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team