You are here

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

MultipleChoice_MTUyMjk=

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

MultipleChoice_MTUyMjg=

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

A teacher once taught me that the difference between someone and somebody is, we use someone when we know the person but do not want to say exactly who they are, and we use somebody when we do not know exactly who they are.
Is that correct ?

Hello Salie108,

I've never heard that. 'someone' is generally considered more formal than 'somebody', but there is no difference in meaning between them as far as I know. You might want to look at the Cambridge Dictionary entry on 'someone' and 'somebody' to see another source on this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Every student must complete.................homework.
.
Which pronoun must be used and why ?

Hello ravikatkade,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for tasks from elsewhere. If we did this then we would end up doing everyone's homework for them!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is there a difference between "everybody" and "everyone "?

Hello Maryse20,

There is no difference between these. Everybody and everyone, somebody and someone etc. are pairs with the same meanings.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi guys! Is there any difference between these two sentences below:
- [ ] John lies too much. There was nothing else to do but fire him.
- [ ] John does not speak the true. There was anything else to do but fire him.
I have a thought that the 2nd one is the correct, but its just a feeling though, it sounds more correct. Thanks for any support, I appreciate!

Hello gaowenda,

The first answer is correct, but the second one has some mistakes in it - for example, 'true' should be 'truth' and 'anything' should be 'nothing'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hey,
I haven't seen anyone ( love/ loves ) sleep as much as you do. Which one is correct?!
Some people treat anyone as a plural is this right ?!!

Hello Ahmedkhairy,

I'm afraid neither is correct, since the relative pronoun 'who' is missing. What I think you mean to say is 'I haven't seen anyone who loves sleep as much as you do'. 'anyone' is followed by a singular verb, not a plural verb.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Pages