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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

Hello kacem,

When we do not know the gender of a person in English we hae three choices. We can guess and choose one of 'he' or 'she', we can say both with phrase 'he or she', or we can use 'they'. The first of these is problematic as our guess inevitably excludes some people. The second option is clumsy stylistically. The third choice is the most common in modern English. We use 'they' with a plural verb but the meaning is 'he or she'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everybody!
I would like to know the difference between anybody/thing/one and somebody/one/thing and when is better to use the first or the second one.
Thank you very much,

have a good day!

Caterina

Hello Caterina,

The indefinite pronouns that begin with 'some' and 'any' are used in the same way as the determiners 'some' and 'any'. In general, 'any' is used in negative or interrogative (question) clauses, and 'some' is used in affirmative clauses.

There are some exceptions, but this general rule will work much of the time. If you'd like to know more, I'd encourage you to see the Cambridge dictionary pages on 'some' and 'any'.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
Good evening!
what is the difference between everyone and everybody?
Many thanks

Hi Yao Mou,

There is no difference in meaning. The forms with -one are perhaps slightly less common and arguably a little less informal, but the distinction is minimal.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

Sir,
Can we use both the present indefinite tense and the present continuous tense for a event that will defintely happen in the near future or in the distant future?
Thanks.

Hello Md.Habibullah,

Both forms are used, but indicate different kinds of future events. Please see our talking about the future page for how the different tenses can be used to speak about the future.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

The school is closing on next sunday.
The school closes on next Sunday.
Those above two questions are grammaticaly correct or not?

Hello Md.Habibullah,

We don't use the preposition 'on' after the verb 'close' in this way. You could say 'The school is closing (or 'closes') next Sunday'. Our talking about the future page explains the difference in meaning, but briefly the present simple implies you're speaking about a timetable whereas the present continuous speaks about an arranged event. In the end, both mean pretty much the same here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

It is I who am to blame.In this sentence discuss all the parts of speech.Is there any use of anticedent here?What are the cases of anticedents?

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