Indefinite Pronoun:

Indefinite pronouns point to uncertain nouns. They never talk of a noun in particular but still give a clear image of the noun being discussed.

Many times, we come across situations when we want to refer to a number of nouns but not as a group, rather individually. Now it will be impractical to take the name of each noun. Here, indefinite pronouns help us.

Similarly, at times the noun is unknown, and the speaker does not want to interrogate about it but refer to it as it is. In this situation also indefinite pronouns are used.

Each, Every, Everybody, Everyone, Somebody, Someone, Something, Anybody, Anyone, Anything, Nobody, No one, Nothing, None, All, Several, Some, Any, Neither, Either, Many, Much, Few, Both, More, Most, Such and One are indefinite pronouns.

Examples:

  • We request everyone to keep their luggage in this room. (here, more than one unknown nouns are referred to individually with the help of the pronoun ‘everyone)

  • Only a few of you will have to wait for the next call. (here, ‘few’ is used for some unknown people.)

  • Nobody can defeat her. (here, a general statement is made, and the noun can be anyone who is uncertain as of now.)

  • Neither is trustworthy, so be prudent in your decision. (here, it is evident that two nouns are being talked about, but both are unknown.)

Ø Singular or Plural

Some indefinite pronouns are considered singular, while some are considered plural. And some indefinite pronouns can be both singular and plural, depending upon the sense of the sentence.

Always SINGULAR Indefinite pronouns:

Another, Anybody, Anyone, Anything, Each, Either, Enough, Everybody, Everyone, Everything, Less, Little, Much, Neither, Nobody, No-one, Nothing, One, Other, Somebody, Someone, Something.

Always PLURAL Indefinite pronouns:

Both, Few, Fewer, Many, Others, Several.

SINGULAR or PLURAL Indefinite pronoun depending on the subject of the sentence:

All, Any, More, Most, None, Some, Such.

Examples:

  • No one is ready to accept that he can fail this exam. (Singular)
  • Somebody has come to see you. (Singular)
  • Government aids do not reach everyone. Several are still homeless and hungry. (Plural)
  • Both were out of town when the earthquake hit their house. (Plural)
  • Many are left homeless in flood. (Plural)
  • Tomorrow we have an important meeting. All are expected to reach on time. (Plural)
  • Please do not worry. All is fine(Plural)
  • When the teacher questioned the students, most were not able to answer. (Plural)

Ø Indefinite pronouns with common Root Words

As we can see, most indefinite pronouns are made with every, some, any and no. Depending on these root words, these indefinite pronouns are used in certain specific sentences and have a particular context.

ROOT WORD MEANING PERSON PLACE THING

EVERY

All

Everyone

Everybody

Everywhere

Everything

SOME

Few

(in affirmation of positive sense)

Someone

Somebody

Somewhere

Something

ANY

Few

(in negative sense meaning not enough)

Anyone

Anybody

Anywhere

Anything

NO

None

No one

Nobody

Nowhere

Nothing

Ø When gender is not specific, Indefinite pronouns take – MASCULINE gender

Usually, indefinite pronouns take gender according to the context of the sentence. But when the gender is not specified in the sentence, then they prioritize masculine gender. This is so because there is no singular pronoun of third person  to represent both male and female in English.

But remember, when indefinite pronouns are referred back, we can use both singular masculine or plural possessive pronouns for them.

Examples:

  • I will call any of the boys to check his
  • Someone from the ladies has left her purse here.
  • Each must do his
  • Each must do their
  • Nobody will listen to me. They will act according to their
  • Everybody should bring his project copy tomorrow.
  • Everybody should bring their project copy tomorrow.

Ø Indefinite pronoun ‘ONE’ has its own possessive pronoun

One’ should be used throughout the sentence if used at all. This means if indefinite pronoun ‘one’ is the subject, every other personal pronoun is replaced with the counterpart of ‘one’. In possessive case, it is one’s. And the reflexive form is oneself.

Examples:

  • If one faces a failure, he should not stop but should try even harder. (INCORRECT)
  • If one faces a failure, one should not stop but should try even harder. (CORRECT)

  • One must always follow his (INCORRECT)
  • One must always follow one’s (CORRECT)

  • Lying to oneself is deceiving himself. (INCORRECT)
  • Lying to oneself is deceiving oneself. (CORRECT)

Ø Indefinite pronouns with root word SOME are used in affirmative sentences

‘Some’ has a positive meaning. It is used in affirmative sentences. It shows hope or assurance. When a noun is in the range of being just enough to be ample, we use ‘some’.

Other compound pronouns formed with -some as root word are also used in affirmative sentences and have a positive meaning. When the speaker wants to convey that he has an idea about the subject, though not completely, he can use somebody, someone, something or somewhere.

Examples:

  • We have consulted some of our most experienced lawyers in this matter.
  • He is sure that someone has knocked on the door.
  • Somebody should help that older woman.
  • I want to go somewhere close to nature.
  • They knew that something was missing in the process.

‘Some’ is also used in interrogative sentences when it is a polite question or when the speaker wants confirmation and expects a ‘yes’ as the answer.

Example:

  • Are you going somewhere?
  • Would you like to have some coffee?
  • Do you want to do something about this?
  • Are you waiting for someone?

Ø Indefinite pronouns with root word ANY are primarily used in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences

‘Any’ usually has a negative meaning. But at times, it can also mean ‘whichever’. When it has a negative sense, it is used in negative and interrogative sentences. And when it means ‘whichever’ or ‘of your choice’, it is used in affirmative sentences.

Examples of Affirmative sentence:

  • You can pick up anything from the cupboard.
  • Take a short break from work and travel anywhere you like.
  • She can do anything to lose some weight.
  • Anybody can do this as it is pretty simple.
  • You are free to take help from anyone you like.

Examples of Negative sentence:

  • She is not getting any help from her office.
  • The doctors cannot do anything about the admission norms of the hospital.
  • You cannot park anywhere you like.
  • They will not let anyone in until they check the identity.

Examples of Interrogative sentence:

  • Does anyone have his phone number?
  • Don’t you have any idea about this?
  • I don’t have anything to do. I am getting bored.
  • She does not want to go anywhere except Manali.
#KEY-NOTES:
  • Indefinite pronouns point to some uncertain noun or nouns. They never talk of a noun in particular but give a clear image of the noun being discussed.
  • Some indefinite pronouns are always singular, some are always plural, and some can be both depending on the subject.
  • The indefinite pronoun ‘one’ takes no other personal pronoun but one’s and oneself.
  • Indefinite pronouns with ‘some’ as root word are used in affirmative sentences and polite interrogations.
  • Indefinite pronouns with the root word ‘any’ are mostly used in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences
#SUMMARY:
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