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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

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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
I drink anything. Is that true? In the tests as a correct variant. I mean not in the situation or dialogue.

Thanks beforehand.

Hello Fidan_Gassim,

Anything is usually found in questions and negatives, but it is possible to use it in an affirmative sentence when you want to say that you can accept whatever there is. For example:

I'm so hungry I'll eat anything. [whatever you have, I'll eat it; it doesn't matter what it is]

In your example, it is possible to use anything with this meaning.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

but IT, ONE, YOU can also be 'indefinite'.

Hello bienne,

Yes, that is correct. The list is not comprehensive. You could also add either, neither, both, all, any and various other pronouns to the list.

I've updated the page to make it clear that the list is not comprehensive.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
I wish to know the difference between the use of "all are not" and 'not all are'. For example, here is a situation:
Some people believe about the members of a tribe named V that they are cheaters. The speaker says this to mention those people's opinion:
They think that they are better than V tribe and that the members of V tribe swindle each other out of money.
Now the speaker disagrees that everyone in that tribe does so, because many of the members of the tribe are honest, they don't swindle, and he wants to say that, 'Some of the members swindle, not all.' What should he say?
1. But all V tribe members are not like that.
OR
2. But not all V tribe members are like that.

Hi xeesid,

Both sentences are grammatically possible, but the second one is better. The speaker wants to emphasise 'not all', and this appears at the start of sentence 2 so it will communicate this meaning more effectively. Sentence 1 has 'not' near the end of the sentence and separated from 'all', so the meaning is less clear.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Could you please shed light on these sentences.
Which auxiliary verb 'is or are' do I have to use after everybody and everything the following sentences?

In the end, everything and everybody [is or are] for sale.

Everybody and everything [is or are] mortal.

As pronouns the difference between everything and everyone [is or are] that everything is (literally) all the things under discussion while everyone is every person.
Best regards.

Hello knownman,

I would say 'is' in both cases, but there are probably others who would argue that 'are' is correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

It's really helpful.

thank you this helped me understand them

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