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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.


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!


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,
The LearnEnglish Team

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,


The LearnEnglish Team 

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?

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,
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?