What are Indefinite Pronouns? How do you use them? (2023)

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What is an indefinite pronoun? This particular category is full of words that you use on an everyday basis, but understanding them is often more intuitive and takes some time to break down precisely. That, however, is exactly what this article is going to do, so that you can gain a better understanding of how these common words function. Let’s start with an indefinite pronoun definition.

A Defining Moment (or Not):

An Indefinite Pronoun Definition

What is an indefinite pronoun? Here’s an indefinite pronoun definition: pronouns that are used to identify persons, places, things, or ideas, but without specifying precise examples. Rather than replacing or referring to some previous noun, these particular words generally stand on their own and represent a concept without a direct antecedent. For example, the word everybody does not need an antecedent to make sense, nor does it identify a specific person or “body.” Therefore, it fits the above description of what is an indefinite pronoun.

The indefinite pronoun definition above was helpful, but doesn’t tell you exactly what an indefinite pronoun looks like. The lists below will show you example pronouns and help you understand what these words look like.

But First, the Options

Now you know how to define indefinite pronoun, but could you identify one in a sentence? Next in our quest to know “what is an indefinite pronoun,” let’s review an indefinite pronouns list for examples of this word type.

Before you look at categories of each indefinite pronoun, let’s list many of the possible words that can function in this way, with an indefinite pronouns list. The following are some of the most common:

  • All
  • Another
  • Any
  • Anybody
  • Anyone
  • Anything
  • Both
  • Each
  • Either
  • Everybody
  • Everyone
  • Neither
  • No one
  • Nobody
  • None
  • Nothing
  • One
  • Other
  • Others
  • Some
  • Someone
  • Such
  • This
  • Whatever
  • Whichever
  • Whoever
  • Whomever

An indefinite pronoun can be classified as singular, plural, or both. Let’s take our indefinite pronouns list and break it down in singular, plural, and both.

Singular indefinite pronouns list:

  • Another
  • Any
  • Anybody
  • Anything
  • Each
  • Either
  • Everybody
  • Everyone
  • Everything
  • Neither
  • No one
  • Nobody
  • Nothing
  • One
  • Other
  • Somebody
  • Someone
  • Something
  • This

Plural indefinite pronouns list:

(Video) Indefinite Pronouns | The parts of speech | Grammar | Khan Academy

  • Both
  • Such
  • Others
  • Some

Both (singular and plural) indefinite pronouns list:

  • None
  • Such
  • Whatever
  • Whichever
  • Whoever
  • Whomever

Some of these indefinite pronouns can be tricky for students to identify as singular or plural. For example, a word like no one sounds like it could be neither singular nor plural. In fact, it sounds like it refers to nothing at all! To complicate things even more, some indefinite pronouns can be used in the singular or the plural, depending on context.

There are also some words, called quantifiers, that function in a similar way as indefinite pronouns but involve quantity, either countable or more general. You’ll see this later, but take a look at this short indefinite pronouns list of quantifiers just to familiarize yourself:

  • Enough
  • Little
  • Less
  • Plenty
  • More
  • Most
  • Much
  • Several
  • Many
  • Few
  • Fewer

Contemplating the Universal

Some indefinite pronouns are considered “universal.” To understand what “universal” means, take a look at this universal indefinite pronouns list: everyone, everybody, everything, both, all.

What do these words have in common? They all indicate that some group is homogenous in some way.That sounds more complicated than it is, so let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

  • Everybodyneeds to relax.

Everybody is the subject of this sentence and does not refer back to any particular preceding noun. Instead, it claims that an entire group needs to relax. It might be directed at a specific group (e.g., that one character in disaster movies who tries to calm everyone down by addressing them like this) or as a general statement on humankind; either way is grammatically correct.

  • Allis forgiven.

Here,allis the only noun in the sentence and the subject. It’s a catch-all term without parameters, encompassing everything imaginable in itsforgiven.

This special category is one of the reasons why it is so hard to define indefinite pronoun. Still, hopefully the examples above have helped you answer the question, “what is an indefinite pronoun that is universal?” Next, let’s examine the universal negative.

The Results Are Negative

In contrast to the above possibilities, there is another group of indefinite pronouns that is used to indicate a universal negative, when a lack of “something” is the subject itself.

  • No oneagrees with Joe.

In this sentence, no one is the focus, conveying the absence of any being that performs the verb (in this case, the absence of anyone who is in agreement with Joe).

  • Noneof those options is good.

This one is a little more complex, because none is clearly related to options. However, “of those options” is part of a prepositional phrase. None (singular) is the real subject of the sentence—the noun with which the verb must agree. In this case, the verb to be is expressed as is. Subject-verb agreement is crucial in all your writing, whether you’re using MLA format,APA format, or one of the manymore stylesused in professional and academic writing.

(Video) English Grammar: How to use 5 confusing indefinite pronouns

Assert Yourself

Sometimes, writers use a word that indicates a portion of some unspecified group or indicates a member of that group without specifying which one in particular (or when specification is not possible).

  • Somebodymust know where the file is.

Somebody denotes the idea that a person must know where the file is, but carries with it the understanding that readers (and the speaker) don’t know which person that might be.

When you use an indefinite pronoun to indicate something that could be quantified, you have the option of uncountable or countable nouns. As their names suggest, countable nouns indicate that, in theory, it would be possible to count the persons or objects encompassed by the word in question.

  • Severalchose to stay behind.
  • Fewuse VCRs these days.

In the above sentences, it is now understood that these quantifiers could be groups that could be counted. Contrast this with their “uncountable” counterparts:

  • Enoughhas happened already.
  • Littlehas been written about her life.

There’s no counting possible with the concepts ofenoughorlittle,but they still function the same way as indefinite identifiers.

Any and All…

Elective existential pronouns have the honor of the most complicated-sounding name, but they’re actually pretty easy to understand. These are used when writers want to identify any member of some group and apply some idea or verb to all of them individually.

Anyonecan see that this is a terrible idea.

Either willwork just fine.

Writers use these words to indicate that it doesn’t matter which person, thing, etc., is substituted in, the result would still be the same. If you’re unsure if you’re using these grammar concepts correctly, our grammar checkcan help!

Pronoun or Adjective?

When we define indefinite pronoun, we include several words that can function as multiple parts of speech. Some of them can be either a pronoun or an adjective, depending on the context. Let’s take a look at an example to make it clear.

  • Someare happy.
  • Somepeople work very quickly.

In the first sentence, some refers to an indefinite set of beings who are happy not to tell us anything about what kind of beings they are. This is a pronoun usage.

(Video) (ENGLISH) What are Indefinite Pronouns? | #iQuestionPH

In the second sentence, some is attached to people and modifies it to tell us what group we are referring to some of. Here, the word some functions as an adjective.

Ready to try it yourself? Take a look at the following two sentences. Which of the following sentences contains an indefinite pronoun?

  • All was well.
  • All children like to play.

The answer?

Both sentences use the wordall,but it is an indefinite pronoun only in the first one; it is an adjective modifying “children” in the second.

And the Rest

When discussing the question “what is an indefinite pronoun?,” you have to consider several words that don’t quite fit into any one category. In this group are words like whichever, this, and other. The key to identifying them is to understand that they do not refer to a clear antecedent. You can find more information on this page.

  • We’ll dowhateverworks best.

Whateveridentifies an abstract concept that encompasses all the possible options that mightwork.

To review the indefinite pronoun definition: an indefinite pronoun refers to a non-specific person, place, or thing. Some indefinite pronouns are singular, some are plural, and some can be both.

Review Questions

  1. What is an indefinite pronoun?
    • a) A word that identifies persons, places, things, or ideas, but without specifying precise examples
    • b) A word that identifies specific persons, places, things, or ideas
  2. Which of the following sentences contains an indefinite pronoun?
    • a) I would like to go to the movie theater this weekend.
    • b) I would like to go somewhere this weekend.
  3. Which of the following sentences contains an indefinite pronoun?
    • a) Sarah gave me the answers to the test.
    • b) Someone gave me the answers to the test.
  4. In the following indefinite pronouns list, which indefinite pronouns are plural?
    • Anybody, everyone, some, somebody, both
  5. One of these sentences contains an indefinite pronoun. The other contains an adjective. Which of the following sentences contains an indefinite pronoun?
    • a) Both girls are named Jennifer.
    • b) I think both are good.

Answers:

1) a 2) b. “somewhere” is an indefinite pronoun. 3) a. “someone” is an indefinite pronoun. 4) Some and both are both plural. 5) b. In sentence a, both is an adjective, since it describes the girls.

Indefinite pronouns are a cornerstone of daily speech, but they can be a little confusing to understand. With the knowledge in this article, you should be able to define indefinite pronoun and use one in a sentence. More importantly, you can feel more confident in your abilities to use these words skillfully!

Published March 6, 2019. Updated June 5, 2020.

(Video) How To Learn Indefinite Pronouns | English Grammar Lessons

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(Video) Indefinite Pronouns

FAQs

What is indefinite pronoun and example? ›

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that doesn't specifically identify what it is referring to. For example, the word someone is an indefinite pronoun in the sentence Someone ate the last slice of pizza. We know that the pronoun someone refers to a human being but we don't know any other information about them.

What are indefinite pronouns give three examples? ›

Any, each, nothing, no one, nobody, everyone, everybody, nothing, everything, someone, something, many, all, some, anyone, anything, anybody and another are some of the indefinite pronouns.

How do we use the pronouns? ›

RULE: Pronouns have three cases: nominative (I, you, he, she, it, they), possessive (my, your, his, her, their), and objective (me, him, her, him, us, them). Use the nominative case when the pronoun is the subject of your sentence, and remember the rule of manners: always put the other person's name first!

What are the 4 indefinite pronouns? ›

The indefinite pronouns "all," "any," "more," "most," and "some" are singular when they refer to something singular but plural when they refer to something plural. More of them are required.

What are 5 sentences using indefinite pronouns? ›

Indefinite pronouns are placed in the same location as a noun would go in the sentence. I would like to go to Paris this summer. I would like to go somewhere this summer. Jim gave me this book.
...
Examples
  • I don't have anything to eat.
  • She didn't go anywhere last week.
  • I can't find anyone to come with me.

What is indefinite sentence with example? ›

Example Sentences

We're stuck here for an indefinite period of time. Their plans have been put on indefinite hold. She is indefinite about her plans.

What are the 7 indefinite pronoun? ›

Indefinite Pronouns
  • Anybody – Everybody – Somebody – Nobody.
  • Each one – Anyone – Everyone – No one –Someone.
  • Anything – Everything – Something – Nothing.
  • Each – Either – Neither.
16 Oct 2020

Why is it called an indefinite pronoun? ›

Indefinite pronouns are those referring to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places. They are called “indefinite” simply because they do not indicate the exact object, being, or place to which they refer.

How many types of indefinite pronouns are there? ›

Indefinite pronouns can be divided into three categories based on whether they take a singular or plural verb: Always singular: anyone, everyone, someone, someone, anybody, somebody, nobody, each, one, either and neither. Always plural: both, few, many, others, and several.

How do you use in a sentence? ›

The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a/an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. We call the the definite article and a/an the indefinite article. For example, if I say, "Let's read the book," I mean a specific book.

How do you use pronouns in a sentence? ›

Pronoun Island: it/it examples

I went with it. It brought its frisbee. At least I think it was its. It threw the frisbee to itself.

How do you explain pronouns in English? ›

A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns refer to either a noun that has already been mentioned or to a noun that does not need to be named specifically.

How do you identify an indefinite pronoun? ›

Unlike personal pronouns ( e.g. he, she, they), indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific person or thing already named.
...
The following indefinite pronouns are always singular:
  1. one.
  2. anyone, everyone, no one, someone.
  3. anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody.
  4. another, the other.
  5. either, neither.
  6. each.
  7. little, less.
  8. much.

What are the two types of indefinite pronouns? ›

Types of indefinite pronouns fit two categories: those that are made up of two morphemes and are called compound pronouns, such as somebody, and those that are followed by the word of, called of-pronouns, such as all or many.

What are the 5 types of pronouns give an example? ›

Types of Pronouns
  • Personal pronouns (e.g., he, they, we)
  • Demonstrative pronouns (e.g., this, that, these)
  • Interrogative pronouns (e.g., which, who, whose)
  • Indefinite pronouns (e.g., none, several, any)
  • Possessive pronouns (e.g., his, yours, ours)
  • Reciprocal pronouns (e.g., each other, one another)

What are the 10 uses of indefinite articles? ›

Examples
  • I'd like an orange and two lemons please.
  • I'd like one orange and two lemons please.
  • The burglar took a diamond necklace and some valuable paintings.
  • I can think of a hundred reasons not to come.
  • I need a kilogram of sugar.
  • I need one kilogram of sugar.
  • You can't run a mile in 5 minutes!

What are the 10 examples of pronoun examples? ›

Some examples of personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, we, they, him, her, he, she, us and them.

What is pronoun give 10 example in sentence? ›

A pronoun (I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, each, few, many, who, whoever, whose, someone, everybody, etc.) is a word that takes the place of a noun. In the sentence Joe saw Jill, and he waved at her, the pronouns he and her take the place of Joe and Jill, respectively.

What is the meaning of an indefinite? ›

/ɪnˈdef. ən.ət/ not exact, not clear, or without clear limits: The project has been postponed for an indefinite period. an indefinite number of people.

What is an indefinite answer? ›

b : not clear or certain in meaning or details : vague. an indefinite answer/boundary.

What is called indefinite? ›

A call sign which does not represent a specific facility, command, authority, activity, or unit, but which may represent any one or any group of these.

What are the 12 types of pronouns? ›

There are 12 personal pronouns for a person or group, and they are: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us and them.

What are the 8 types of pronouns with examples? ›

Writing Tips: 8 Types of Pronoun
  • Personal Pronouns. Personal pronouns are used in place of a specific person or thing. ...
  • Demonstrative Pronouns. ...
  • Relative Pronouns. ...
  • Reciprocal Pronouns. ...
  • Indefinite Pronouns. ...
  • Interrogative Pronouns. ...
  • Reflexive Pronouns. ...
  • Intensive Pronouns.
17 Aug 2020

What are the 20 example of pronoun? ›

Pronouns are classified as personal (I, we, you, he, she, it, they), demonstrative (this, these, that, those), relative (who, which, that, as), indefinite (each, all, everyone, either, one, both, any, such, somebody), interrogative (who, which, what), reflexive (myself, herself), possessive (mine, yours, his, hers, ...

Why do we use indefinite? ›

The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known. There are certain situations in which a noun takes no article.

How do you teach indefinite pronouns fun? ›

A nice way to introduce this English grammar point is through a picture of people doing things. Then, you can elicit some sentences from your students about what the people are doing using indefinite pronouns.
...
For example:
  1. Someone is playing soccer.
  2. All the kids are eating ice cream.
  3. None of the people are women.
15 Oct 2022

What is the difference between definite and indefinite pronouns? ›

A definite pronoun would be a pronoun that refers to something specific, so a personal pronoun would also be a definite pronoun. (Refer back to the Personal Pronouns page to see examples.) Indefinite pronouns do not refer to anything specific, so words like someone and everybody are indefinite pronouns.

Is everything an indefinite pronoun? ›

Everyone, everybody, everything and everywhere are indefinite pronouns. We use them to refer to a total number of people, things and places. We write them as one word: His name was Henry but everyone called him Harry.

Why do we use 5 sentences? ›

[M] [T] She explained to him why she didn't like his parents. [M] [T] Have you been told the reasons why we didn't hire you? [M] [T] I'd really like to know why he did that sort of thing. [M] [T] She asked him why he was crying, but he didn't answer.

What are the examples of definite and indefinite articles? ›

Indefinite: “I'm going to eat an apple.” This could be any apple, we don't know which one. Definite: “I'm going to eat the apple.” We do know which apple I'm going to eat. If you can remember these two rules, you're off to a very good start mastering English articles 'a/an' and 'the'.

How do you write the sentences? ›

A sentence follows Subject + Verb + Object word order. He (subject) obtained (verb) his degree (object).

How do you write a pronoun? ›

You can use these common formats: My pronouns are: She/her/hers. My pronouns: she, her, hers and they, them, theirs. Pronouns: he, him, his.

What does it mean to use your pronouns? ›

When someone shares their pronouns, it is an indication of how they would like to be referred to in the third person. Pronouns in the first person (referring to yourself– e.g., “I”) or second person (referring to the person you're speaking to– e.g., “you”) do not change.

How do you use pronouns in a paragraph? ›

When using pronouns in a paragraph, the writer needs to make sure it is clear who or what the pronouns are referring to; a paragraph will not be cohesive if pronouns are improperly used.

How do you teach pronouns? ›

They are very good.
  1. Ask students which words have been replaced by new words.
  2. Explain that pronouns replace proper names and nouns such as "David," "Anna and Susan," "the book," etc.
  3. Ask students which pronouns would replace different names and objects. Make sure to switch between singular and plural subject pronouns.
4 Nov 2019

How do you introduce yourself using pronouns? ›

If you are beginning a conversation with someone, try introducing yourself with your pronouns. For example, you could say, 'Hi my name is Maria. I'm from Ohio and I use she/her/hers pronouns. '

What is a pronoun for beginners? ›

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. We often use them to avoid repeating the nouns that they refer to. Pronouns have different forms for the different ways we use them. Read clear grammar explanations and example sentences to help you understand how pronouns are used.

What are the 4 most common pronouns? ›

She, her, hers and he, him, his are the most commonly used pronouns. Some people call these "female/feminine" and "male/masculine" pronouns, but many avoid these labels because, for example, not everyone who uses he feels like a "male" or "masculine." There are also lots of gender-neutral pronouns in use.

What are the 11 types of pronouns? ›

Types of pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns.
  • Personal pronouns.
  • Relative pronouns.
  • Reflexive pronouns.
  • Indefinite pronouns.
  • Demonstrative pronouns.
  • Interrogative pronouns.
  • Intensive pronouns.
30 Sept 2021

What are the 6 types of pronouns? ›

Types of Pronoun
  • Personal Pronouns.
  • Possessive Pronouns.
  • Demonstrative Pronouns.
  • Reflexive Pronouns.
  • Relative Pronouns.
  • Reciprocal Pronouns.

What are the 10 examples of pronoun? ›

Some examples of personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, we, they, him, her, he, she, us and them.

What is indefinite and definite nouns? ›

The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known. There are certain situations in which a noun takes no article.

What are the 7 types of pronouns? ›

There are seven types of pronouns that both English and English as a second language writers must recognize: the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the relative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun.

What is pronoun give 5 examples with sentence? ›

A pronoun (I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, each, few, many, who, whoever, whose, someone, everybody, etc.) is a word that takes the place of a noun. In the sentence Joe saw Jill, and he waved at her, the pronouns he and her take the place of Joe and Jill, respectively.

What kind of word is indefinite? ›

The adjective indefinite describes something that is vague or not clearly defined: “After injuring her knee in a riding accident, Gloria postponed her vacation for an indefinite period of time.”

What are two indefinite pronouns? ›

An indefinite pronoun refers to a non-specific person or thing. The most common ones are: all, any, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone.

What is difference between definite and indefinite tense? ›

We use indefinite to mean non-specific. Indefinite is general. We use definite to mean specific.

What are the 4 indefinite articles? ›

In Spanish, you have to choose between four indefinite articles: un, una, unos and unas, where in English you would use a or an to refer to something unspecific.

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