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.
|Singular||Plural||Singular or Plural|
Indefinite pronouns that end in –body,–one, and –thing are always singular and they must be matched with singular verbs.
Either and neither
These two definite pronouns are used as singular.
Other singular indefinite pronouns.
Plural indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns that are both singular and plural