Indefinite Pronouns


Indefinite pronouns are an essential part of the English language that add variety and depth to our conversations and writings. Practicing and mastering the use of these pronouns can significantly improve your communication skills. This tutorial will guide you on how to correctly apply indefinite pronouns, their variations and typical use-cases.

What are Indefinite Pronouns?

As their name suggests, indefinite pronouns are used when we are uncertain about what we are referring to. They do not refer to specific persons or things, thus, they are 'indefinite'. Examples include: someone, anyone, everyone, nothing, everything, etc. One easy way to remember indefinite pronouns is to note that most of them end in "-body", "-one", "-thing" or "-where".

Types of Indefinite Pronouns

There are several types of indefinite pronouns, Each having their specific usage rules. Here are some common types:

  • Universal indefinite pronouns refer to all members within a specific group. For instance, "all", “everyone”, “everything”
  • Negative indefinite pronouns strictly refer to none within a group or category. For example, “no one”, “nobody”, “nothing”
  • Affirmative indefinite pronouns include any member of the group. Examples include: “somebody”, “someone”, “something”
  • Non-affirmative indefinite pronouns include at least one or even none of the group members. Examples include: “anybody”, “anyone”, “anything”
  • Usage Rules for Indefinite Pronouns

    Although indefinite pronouns don't refer to a specific person, place or thing, there are specific rules for their usage.

    Singular and Plural Agreement

    Most indefinite pronouns are singular. This means they require singular verbs. For instance, you should say "Everyone is present" instead of "Everyone are present". Indefinite pronouns that indicate both-or-all are often plural. For example, "Many are called" instead of "Many is called".

    Referential Agreement

    When an indefinite pronoun is used as a subject, the pronoun or adjective that refers back to it must agree with it in number. For instance, we say "Someone lost their book" and not "Someone lost his/her book".

    Examples of Indefinite Pronouns

    Examples always help in clarifying the concept. Below are some sentences with indefinite pronouns underlined:

  • "Everybody loves a good mystery novel."
  • "Someone must have left this bag here."
  • "Do you have anything to declare?"
  • "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen."
  • "I don't want to go anywhere today."
  • Common Mistakes with Indefinite Pronouns

    Even though indefinite pronouns are relatively straightforward, common errors often arise from their use. Here are a few:

    Incorrect Verb Agreement

    As mentioned earlier, most indefinite pronouns are singular and require singular verbs. A common error is the use of plural verbs with singular indefinite pronouns. For example, saying "Everyone love pizza" instead of "Everyone loves pizza".

    Confusion between 'No one' and 'None'

    'No one' and 'None' are often confused. 'No one' refers to no person or people, while 'None' may refer to people, items, or abstract ideas. For example, it's correct to say "No one is at home," but incorrect to say "None is at home."


    Knowing how to use indefinite pronouns considerably improves your grammar. It not only enhances your writing skills but also makes your conversation more effective. The key to mastering indefinite pronouns is understanding their types, usage rules, and then putting them into practice. Regular practice, indeed, makes perfect.

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