Learn English Grammar

Learn English Grammar

Indefinite pronouns refer to things or people without mentioning what or who they are. This means you have to be careful when using them to make sure the meaning is clear to the listener or reader. The first group of indefinite pronouns here are easier to understand as they refer to nonspecific nouns. (They are sometimes called compound pronouns.)

People and Things

People-body

  • Somebody
  • Anybody
  • Everybody
  • Nobody

People-one

  • Someone
  • Anyone
  • Everyone
  • No one

Things-thing

  • Something
  • Anything
  • Everything
  • Nothing

For example:-

  • Somebody stole my car!
  • Shiny thought she had joined us, but no one could see her.
  • Does anybody know who Your Teacher is?
  • Does someone have something that could help me with anything?

!Note

Even if a compound pronoun seems to refer to more than one thing, when it is the subject of the sentence the verb is treated as singular.

For example:-

  • Everybody enjoys a good meal.
  • I think everything is fine.

Handle with Care!

The following indefinite pronouns need to be handled with care. They are often used as expressions of quantity, and refer to a specific noun which should have already been mentioned.

These indefinite pronouns can refer to singular or plural nouns or verbs.

Singular - any pronouns or verbs used to refer to them should also be singular.

Plural - any pronouns or verbs used to refer to them should also be plural.

Singular or plural - any pronouns or verbs used to refer to them may be singular or plural.

    For example For example
Singular

another, each, either, little, much, neither, one, other

I offered her another. (Here you need to know what we are talking about.)

I offered her another (cup of tea).

-
Plural

both, few, many, others, several

 

-

Both (of the teachers) were hired.

Singular or Plural

all, any, more, most, none, some

(Depending on wether the noun is countable or uncountable)

Most (of the wine) was red.
Some (of the jewellery) is fake.

Most (of the passengers) were drunk.
Some (of the strays) were rehoused.

Have you noticed?

Some of these indefinite pronouns are often followed by "of". (See what I did there?)

See if you can make sense of this:-

Somebody, Everybody, Anybody, and Nobody

Once there were four managers.  Their names were: Somebody, Everybody, Anybody, and Nobody.  They were very busy people, but whenever there was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but No one realized that Nobody would do it. So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place.

The competition

Now they all worked in the same company, and their company held a competition:  Who could produce the best logo?  Everybody had a good idea.  Nobody thought nobody would follow it through.  Somebody thought anybody could work on it.  Anybody thought everybody should do it.  Eveybody thought someone would do it. So nobody did anything. Everybody thought anybody could win something.  Anybody thought somebody should win.  Somebody thought everybody would win.  Nobody thought nobody would win.  What did they win? Nothing!

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