Indefinite pronouns

Learn about the indefinite pronouns anybody, everybody, nobody and somebody and do the exercises to practise using them.

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.

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Hi sajjakarthik,

As Peter remarks, whether this is correct or not depends on the context. If you are pointing at some eggs, peas and chips and telling someone what they are called in English, or if you were pointing at a piece of abstract art and telling someone what you see in it, this would be correct. But if you're in a restaurant, summarising and order, it would not be correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by hawa100 on Tue, 27/03/2018 - 23:55

Hello! Kindly explain to me the difference between these two sentences: I will like to go. I would like to go. Can they be interchanged ?
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 29/03/2018 - 06:24

In reply to by hawa100


Hi again hawa100,

'will' and 'would are used differently, so in most cases you cannot exchange them without changing the meaning. Please see our will or would page for an explanation.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by hawa100 on Sat, 24/03/2018 - 21:56

Hello! I would like to know the difference between indefinite pronoun and distributive pronoun. Thank you in advance for the help.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 25/03/2018 - 08:29

In reply to by hawa100


Hello hawa100,

Indefinite pronouns do not identify people or things specifically but in general and non-specific terms. They include words like everyone, everybody, everything, no-one, nobody, nothing, anyone, anybody, anything, someone and so on.

Distributive pronouns refer to members of a group separately and not collectively. They include each, any, either, neither and others.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Sir for the answer. I have seen the difference now.

Submitted by foofighters12 on Mon, 22/01/2018 - 19:50

I got 8 out 8 for that one.