An indefinite pronoun replaces a noun without referring to any person or thing in particular. It is a group of pronouns that are used when the noun is unknown or for our convenience; for example, instead of asking, “Is Anne, Bob, Carrie, Dan or Ellen interested in coming along?”, we can use an indefinite pronoun to make things easier: “Is anyone interested in coming along?” The word anyone is an indefinite pronoun.   

 

The examples here should explain the use of an indefinite pronoun
  • Someone is knocking the door.
(Someone is an indefinite pronoun and we use it because we are not referring to any particular person such as our mother, a friend or George who is knocking the door.)

 

  • Is anybody there?

(Here, a question uses an indefinite pronoun anybody because the person asking the question does not want to know if a definite person is there – a person such as his uncle, friend or Michael. He just wants to know if a person is there.)

 

  • Something is burning over there.

(The noun is unknown. We don’t know what thing is burning over there, so we use an indefinite pronoun something.)

 

There is a fair number of indefinite pronouns, and all of them do not refer specifically to any person or thing. Most indefinite pronouns are either singular or plural with a few of them that can be both singular and plural. Singular indefinite pronoun subjects take singular verbs and plural indefinite pronoun subjects take plural verbs. 

Indefinite Pronouns
Singular Plural Singular or Plural
anybody both all
everybody few any
nobody many more
somebody others most
anyone several none
everyone   some
someone   such
anything    
everything    
something    
another    
each    
either    
little    
much    
neither    
no one    
nothing    
one    
other    

 

Indefinite pronouns that end in –body, –one, and –thing are always singular and they must be matched with singular verbs.

 

Examples:

  • A strange noise comes from the other room, but there wasn’t anybody there.
  • Everybody is waiting to hear the good news.
  • Nobody wants to listen to my ghost stories.
  • Somebody has left the banana skins here.
  • Anyone is welcome to help wash my car.
  • Everyone is speaking but no one is listening.
  • Someone has to put the rubbish beside the dustbin.
  • Is there anything I can eat?
  • Is everything all right?
  • Something in the kitchen smells strongly of rotten fish..

 
 

Either and neither

These two definite pronouns are used as singular.

 

Examples:

  • Which of these  two boxes is big enough for those things? I think either is big enough.
  • The police think either of the suspects was involved in the crime.
  • He begs his parents for forgiveness for what he has done, but neither forgives him.
  • Neither of them wants a divorce for the sake of the children.

 

Other singular indefinite pronouns

 

Examples:

  • This is her daughter and there is another at home.

  • Each of them agrees that in every friendship there has to be some give-and-take.

  • Little is known about his whereabouts.

  • Much of what we know about her mysterious disappearance is false.

  • There is no one in that room, yet I have just heard a voice calling my name.

  • I have already told you there is nothing wrong with me.

  • One has to know when to keep quiet and listen.

  • I'll buy this pair; the other is more expensive.  

 

 

Plural indefinite pronouns

 

Examples:

  • I'll cannot forget those two fat monkeys, both of which are obviously overfed.
  • There are few countries left to visit before I die.
  • Many have been rescued and the search for the others will continue.
  • One of the escaped prisoners was recaptured while two others were still at large.
  • Several of the crocodiles are believed to have escaped from the crocodile farm.    

 

Indefinite pronouns that are both singular and plural

 

Examples:

  • All we know is that the rumours about him are not true.  
  • All were cheering loudly for their team.
  • There was't any food left when I got there.
  • As she was going on a trip, she asked if any of us were interested in joining her.   
  • The police will not answer the reporters' questions until more is known. 
  • More are rescued as the search continues.
  • Most of her savings is spent on holiday.
  • Most of the household contents are covered by an insurance policy.
  • You want some more soup, but there is none left. 
  • None of my uncles is/are as skinny as my father.
  • Some of them just don't know what they are talking about.
  • Some more butter is needed to make the cake.
  • If such is the plan, we have to start preparing straightaway.
  • It such are their positions, it is unlikely they will reach an agreement.