In this post, we learn what an indefinite pronoun is, and how to use it in a sentence.
What is an indefinite pronoun?
Indefinite pronoun definition: An indefinite pronoun refers to someone or something that is not specific. In other words, it refers to a person, a place, or a thing that the speaker does not know or does not want the listener to know.
Indefinite pronouns, when functioning as a subject, can be considered singular, plural, or both.
Singular indefinite pronouns list
The indefinite pronouns starting with any, some, all, and no follow a particular pattern. Here’s a table that explains it:
|Heads||Some (+ve)||Every (+ve)||No (-ve)||Any (-ve & ?ve)|
- Someone is waiting for you in the library.
- I am dating someone.
- Everyone is beautiful in their own way.
- I want to help everyone who is in need.
- I don’t know anyone who can do this.
- Do you know anyone who can do this?
Positive sentence (negative meaning)
- I know no one who can do this.
- Nobody can do this except Jon.
Someone (somebody), something, somewhere = used in a positive sentence to refer to one individual
Everyone (everybody), everything, everywhere = used in a positive sentence to refer to all items
Anyone (anybody), anything, anywhere = used in a negative sentence to refer to one item (part)
No-one (nobody), nothing, nowhere = used in a positive sentence to refer to one item (part) but gives a negative meaning
NOTE: Indefinite pronouns (anyone and anything) can be replaced with (no-one and nothing) without changing the meaning of the sentence. But when we replace them, the sentence changes from negative to positive; the connotation of the sentence remains negative though.
- I did not talk to anyone about it.
- I talked to no one about it.
- I haven’t fought anyone yet.
- I have fought no one yet.
- She didn’t eat anything last night.
- She ate nothing last night.
We can also use anything/anybody with a sense of all in positive sentences. It gives a sense of having the liberty to choose from a list of options.
- You can order anything. We have got a lot of money.
- We can invite anybody that you like to the party.
- I would give up anything to have you by my side.
- Anyone who has studied psychology can tell you that he is mentally disturbed a little at the moment.
Other singular indefinite pronouns examples:
- Either of you is going with us.
- Neither of you is going with us.
- We saw 5 performances. Each was amazing.
- Each of the classes is performing well.
- Little has been done about the case.
- Less of the profits has been given to us.
- We didn’t say much about it.
- He does not each much.
- One needs to learn how to control one’s mind.
- One of my friends is a professional fighter.
- You can take this pen. I have another.
- I love the candy. Do you have another?
Plural indefinite pronouns list
- A few
- He has two houses. Both are in Delhi.
- Both of you are selected for the job.
- Back in the day, someone gave me a lot of cricket balls. I still have a few of them.
- You are the only one who thinks I have something going on here. Others think I am just wasting my time on it.
- You can keep this coat; I have many that I don’t use.
- She bought 15 sarees. All are of different colors.
- Only a few people saw my message, and fewer responded to it.
- Several of us are not going to the party.
List of Indefinite pronouns that can be both singular and plural
- Have you seen any of my videos? (can be both singular and plural)
- All of my money is spent on traveling. (singular)
- All of the matches were played in Mumbai. (plural)
- Most of the matches were fixed. (plural)
- Most of the food was thrown away. (singular)
- We needed more of his experience. (singular)
- None of the matches are taking place on the ground. (plural)
- None of your friends talks to me politely. (singular)
- Some of my friends haven’t seen me for a long time. (plural)
- Some of the juice is still on the floor. (singular)
- Such was the food that nobody ate it. (singular)
- Such were the dogs that we didn’t even get close to them. (plural)
Indefinite pronouns vs Indefinite adjectives
Most of these words can act as both pronouns and adjectives. So, how do we know whether they function as an adjective or a pronoun in a sentence?
Here’s the trick: if these words are followed by a noun; they are functioning as an adjective. If they are standing alone, or followed by a prepositional phrase (of + the + noun/pronoun), they are functioning as a pronoun.
- Some people are waiting for you at the stand. (indefinite adjective = some + noun)
- Some of your friends are waiting for you at the stand. (indefinite pronoun = some + prepositional phrase)
- There were many people. Some were with their girlfriends. (indefinite pronoun)
|Words||Indefinite pronoun||Indefinite adjective|
|Either||Either of you fits the job.||Either man can win the fight.|
|Neither||Neither of them was the right choice for the job.||Neither fighter actually won.|
|Each||There were 6 cars. Each was amazing.||Each car was amazing.|
|little||A little has been done about mental health in this country.||I need a little confidence to pull this off.|
|Less||There was less to eat.||There is less food to eat.|
|Much||We didn’t say much about it.||There is not much food on the table.|
|Any||Any of my students can beat you.||We can go to any hotel.|
|All||All of the matches were played in Mumbai.||I spent all my money on my education.|
|More||We needed more of his experience.||I was asked to come with more experience.|
|Most||Most of the houses are already sold.||Most people don’t know how to control their minds.|
|Some||Some of these boys are trained fighters.||The school needed some English teachers.|
|such||Such was the test that we were crying in the examination room.||Such students should be punished.|
|Both||I have two cars. Both are extremely fast.||They want to buy both cars.|
|Few||A few of those buildings are in really bad condition.||Ashish still has a few projects to finish.|
|Many||Many were ready to do this.||My company fired many employees in 2020.|
|Several||There were over 200 guests. Several of them are still in the hall.||Jon owns several gyms in Mumbai.|
Notice that indefinite pronouns are standing alone or are followed by a prepositional phrase (of the + noun). But indefinite adjectives are followed by a noun or a noun phrase.
The prepositional phrase that follows a pronoun works as a post modifier (adjective).
Is NONE singular or plural?
The indefinite pronoun ‘none‘ has been very controversial for years.
None as an indefinite pronoun is used as both a singular indefinite pronoun and a plural indefinite pronoun, depending on the number (noun) it refers to.
The controversy with this is that some grammarians believe that none is a singular pronoun and should not be used as a plural pronoun. According to them, none means not one of something. Since it focuses on one (singleness), they refuse to accept it as a plural noun.
Let’s hear the side of people who don’t hesitate to use it as a plural pronoun. According to these people, none, apart from meaning ‘not one of something’, also means ‘not any of something’. When it means not any of something, the word ‘any‘ can refer to multiple parts of the plural noun it’s referring to. Therefore, it can be used as a plural pronoun.
Both meanings have existed for years, and we have used them in the right contexts.
- None of my classmates was present at the party. (focusing on each classmate separately)
- None of the classmates were present at the party. (it means ‘not any of the classmates’… here, ‘any’ refers to a part of the plural noun classmates, and in the part, it has a couple of objects: classmates)
What is an indefinite pronoun?
An indefinite pronoun refers to people or things without specifying them. The following are the most common indefinite pronouns in English: someone/somebody, something, everyone/everybody, everything, no one/nobody, and nothing.
What are 12 examples of indefinite pronouns?
Someone, something, everyone, everything, no one, nothing, all, some, several, many, much, and others are 12 indefinite pronouns in English.
What are the two types of indefinite pronouns?
Indefinite pronouns can be divided into two categories based on the number they refer to: 1) Singular indefinite pronoun 2) Plural indefinite pronoun
Some singular indefinite pronouns = Someone/somebody, anyone/anybody, no-one/nobody, everyone/everybody, everything, something, anything, nothing
Some plural indefinite pronouns = Both, a few, several, others, many, fewer, all
Why is it called an indefinite pronoun?
An indefinite pronoun is called indefinite because it does not specify the person or thing it refers to.
What is the use of definite and indefinite pronouns?
A definite pronoun refers to a specific person. Personal pronouns (he, she, it, I, you, they, it) do that. On the other hand, indefinite pronouns don’t refer to a specific person or thing. Some indefinite pronouns include someone, anyone, no-one, something, anything, nothing, etc.
What are the 17 singular indefinite pronouns?
All singular indefinite pronouns in English: Someone, anyone, no-one, everyone, everything, something, something, nothing, either, neither, each, little, less, much, one, other, another
Hope you enjoyed the post! Feel free to correct any typing mistakes you come across. Help others get better by sharing the post with them!
Now, we know everything about indefinite pronouns in English. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.
For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].