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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.


This really depends on the construction of the particular sentence. -> Why did you use the word "really" here? Is it optional?

Hello kingston123,

'Really' adds a sense of 'honestly' or 'to be honest' to this sentence. You could omit it if you wished.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I think most of non native speakers are confused because of unnecessary words like really etc. That is why I liked to omit.Thank you very much.

Hi dear, my question is , if we are saying ( is / eats ) to everybody or nobody as below examples ;
Everybody (is) saying that ... , Nobody in my family (eats) meat .

So why ; If anybody has any questions, ((they're)) very welcome to come and ask me. ???!

Thank You

Hello NourSfieh,

Traditionally, the personal pronoun 'he' was used in a sentence like this because 'he' could refer to a male or female. But in recent times, many people have come to consider using 'he' inappropriate, because it seems to refer only to males. For this reason, nowadays many people use 'they' when they don't know whether the person they are talking about is male or female. In this case, although 'they' refers to one person, we still use the plural verb with it (even though it really only refers to one person).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

My question is about the use of "someone/anyone" in interrogative sentences. The general rule is that one must use "anyone" instead of "someone" in most of the questions. Why is "someone" used in the following phrase and not "anyone"?
"Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:3)

Two more sentences from the US educational document:
1. Can anyone other than me or my parent view my education records?
2. Can I ask someone else to view my education record for me?
Why "anyone" in one question and "someone" in the other?

Could you please tell me if this is a correct form of the question:
"Do you have individual lessons or attend them with someone else?"

Hello Yuri_1960,

The difference between someone and anyone is not really about the kind of sentence they are used in. It is perfect fine to use either in all kinds of sentences. The difference is one of meaning but that difference is not a simple on that is the same in all contexts, but rather varies, and in some examples there is no substantive difference in meaning. Sometimes it is about the expected answer and sometimes about specificity, for example.

I can give you some examples but I can't go through every possible use of some- and any- here. It is a quite complex topic.

Is anyone there?

Is someone there?

The first sentence suggests that the speaker expects a negative answer - he or she does not think there is a person there. The second sentence has a suggestion that there might be a person there, or even an expectation that there will be.


Someone here can help.

Anyone here can help.

The first sentence tells us that there is a person present who is capable of helping the speaker. The second sentence tells us that no special qualifications or abilities are needed to help - it is something any person is able to do.


In the particular examples you provide, the use is as follows:

Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?

Here you could replace 'someone' with 'anyone' and there is no real difference in meaning.


Can anyone other than me or my parent view my education records?

Can I ask someone else to view my education record for me?

Here too you could replace 'anyone' with 'someone' without any real change in meaning.

Do you have individual lessons or attend them with someone else?

Both 'someone' and 'anyone' are possible in this sentence. There is no real difference in meaning.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi, why we should write "If anybody has any questions, they're very welcome to come and ask me." and not "he's very welcome to come and ask me."?

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,


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!