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English Grammar - Indefinite Pronouns

What is a Indefinite Pronoun?

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that are used to refer to people or things without mentioning who or what exactly they are. In other words, an indefinite pronoun does not directly refer to any particular person, animal or thing. It is ‘not definite’ and vague. Typical indefinite pronouns are:

  • Somebody/someone
  • Something
  • Some
  • One
  • None
  • Nobody
  • Many
  • Few
  • Everything
  • Everybody/everyone
  • Each
  • Another
  • Either
  • Neither

It should be noted that many of these indefinite pronouns may function as other parts of speech such as adjectives.

For example, look at the following sentence:

  • He drinks one cup of coffee in the morning and another in the afternoon. (‘another’ is a pronoun here.)
  • I would like another cup of coffee, please. (Here, ‘another’ is an adjective.)

Indefinite pronouns ca be singular or plural. Some of them can be singular in one context, but plural in another. Common indefinite pronouns with examples as either singular, plural or singular/plural are listed below.

Pronoun

Meaning

Example

anybody/ anyone

no matter what person

Can anyone answer this question?

another

A different or an additional person or thing

That cookie was good. Can I have another?

anything

no matter what thing

Have you eaten anything in the last two hours?

each

every one of two or more people or things, seen separately

Each will have an ice cream.

either

one or the other of two people or things

Do you want ice cream or fruit salad? / I don't mind. Either is fine for me.

enough

As many or as much as needed

Enough has been said about this.

everybody/ everyone

all people

We can begin the program as soon as everyone arrives.

everything

all things

These people have lost everything in the floods.

neither

not one and not the other of two people or things

Neither of my friends believe me.

nobody/ no-one

no person

I have been to the house, but nobody is there.

one

an unidentified person

| All the members of the groups had arrived but now one is missing.

somebody/ someone

an unspecified or unknown person

Clearly, somebody killed him.

something

an unknown or unspecified thing

I just saw something! What is that?

Plural    

both

two people or things, seen together

I like almonds and walnuts. Both are good for health.

few

a small number of people or things

Few have dared to disobey him.

fewer

a reduced number of people or things

Fewer are in the habit of smoking these days.

Notes
A plural pronoun is used when you have to refer back to some indefinite pronouns. For example, I will tell everyone that dinner is ready. They have been waiting for some time.

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