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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

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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

I'm confused with the meanings of 'Everybody' and 'Everyone' How can I use them each one? Are plural? Greetings from Venezuela.

Hello adeljva,

These are used interchangeably, as are anybody/anyone, nobody/no-one etc.

As the information on this page says, indefinite pronouns take a singular verb ('everybody is...' not 'everybody are...'). However, they mean 'all people' and so they have a plural meaning, even though the verb is grammatically singular.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Peter M!

some are/is born great.why are is correct
many student are/is absent.why are

Hello md shahbaz,

'Are' is the plural form of the verb. When you say 'many students' or 'some people' you are describing more than one, and so a plural verb is needed.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I am little bit confused over the use of--
" When we refer back to an indefinite pronoun we normally use a plural pronoun"
eg. Everybody enjoyed the concert. They stood up and clapped.

But--
1)As 'everybody' is 3rd person indefinite singular pronoun then why to use 3rd person plural pronoun.
2)At some other source they say that one should use third person singular pronoun in such cases. Please clear my doubt.
I am providing the link of that source..
http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000027.htm (refer gender sensitive case)

Thank you

Hello vivekdarshane,

To answer your first question, I'm afraid that languages are not completely logical systems. This is just the way English has come to be spoken over centuries of use.

As for your second question, I'm afraid we don't comment on other websites. 'Everybody' clearly refers to more than one person, so a plural pronoun at least makes some sense – perhaps it will help to think of it that way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello LearnEnglish Team,

I have a doubt concerning the rule "We use a singular verb after an indefinite pronoun" and the first stated example: Everybody loves Sally.

Why is "loves" in plural here?

Thanks,
Eduardo

Hello ehernandez07,

Actually, 'loves' is a third person singular form, i.e. the form that is used with 'he', 'she', 'it' and pronouns like 'everybody'. The plural form, i.e. the form used with 'they', is 'love': 'They love Sally'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello ehernandez07,

As it says above:

We use a singular verb after an indefinite pronoun

All the pronouns in the table at the top of the page are indefinite pronouns.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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