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 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

Thanks for your answer. Which other indefinite pronoun act like third person?

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

Hi
When do we use (else)? Thank you

Hi player one,

We use 'else' after an indefinite pronoun to mean 'other than this (these)'. For example:

Ask someone else = As someone other than me

Let's go somewhere else = Let's go somewhere other than here

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

Thank you so much for your all the lesson and knowledge on the website. I really like this website so much. so could you please post more and more the exercise for each of english grammar part. thank you!

Hello Thanh Thuyy,

Thank you for your nice comment! We are always looking to add content so you will find more language tasks in the future. Also, please note that our reading, listening and watching materials all have language tasks with them, so they include grammar as well as skills work.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk and Peter M.,

What is the difference between "anybody" and "somebody"?
Which is correct: "Can somebody help?" or "Can anybody help?"

Thank you. Greetings from Indonesia

Hello widiatnala,

The difference is not simple and not something which can be expressed in a simple definition. Both mean 'a person, it doesn't matter who', but we tend to use 'somebody' when the expectation is that there is a person, and 'anybody' when we are suggesting there many not be a person. This is the same as with the use of 'some' and 'any' generally.

This often means that 'somebody' occurs most often in affirmative sentences and 'anybody' in negative sentences and questions.

In your examples, the first sentence (with 'somebody') suggests that the speaker believes there is a person capable of helping, and is asking if they are willing. The second sentence (with 'anybody') suggests that the speaker is less optimistic about getting help because they don't know if there is a person or not.

It is a subtle distinction, I'm afraid.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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