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Indefinite Pronouns: What are they and how to use them

Indefinite Pronouns: What are they and how to use them

When we think about pronouns, our minds often reach for words like he, she, it, or this. Words that can be used to replace specific nouns mentioned earlier in our writings.

But what happens when we’re referring to a non-specific noun? Now, that is the job for another kind of pronoun. Namely, the indefinite pronoun.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly is an indefinite pronoun, and when should you use it.

What’s an Indefinite Pronoun

Definite pronouns like he, she, it, and they are used when we want to talk about something or someone specific. They point to a particular thing or person, making our conversation more precise and clear.

On the other hand, an indefinite pronoun is a word we use to talk about things or people in a general way without being specific. For example, words like everyone, something, and nobody fall into this category. They help us avoid repeating the same nouns in a sentence.

In short, indefinite pronouns are a bit vague, while definite pronouns are specific and clear.

Here are some examples:

Eg. She found nothing in the drawer when she searched for her missing keys.

Nothing is an indefinite pronoun indicating the absence of any specific thing.

Eg. Several of the students were absent from school today.

Several is an indefinite pronoun representing an unspecified number of students who were not present.

Eg. I have several tasks to complete today. I've already finished a few, and I'll tackle the rest tomorrow.

The rest is an indefinite pronoun referring back to the non-specific noun tasks mentioned earlier.

Eg. The party had a wide variety of snacks. I grabbed a plate and took some.

Some is an indefinite pronoun referring back to the non-specific noun ‘snacks’ mentioned earlier.

List of singular and plural indefinite pronouns

Singular Indefinite Pronouns

Singular Indefinite Pronouns Examples
Anyone Anyone can participate.
Someone Someone knocked on the door.
Nobody Nobody knows the answer.
Everybody Everyone loves pizza.
Each I gave each a gift.
Either You can choose either option.
Neither Neither of us was late.
Something I found something interesting.
Everything Everything is ready.
Nothing There's nothing left.

Plural Indefinite Pronouns

Plural Indefinite Pronouns Examples
All All are welcome.
Some Some are here early.
Few Few arrived on time.
Many Many attended the class.
Most Most have already left.
Several Several people joined.
Both Both options are good.
Others Others may join later.
None None of them is correct.

Indefinite Pronouns that can be singular/plural

Indefinite Pronouns Singular Plural
All All the cake is gone. All the cookies are gone.
Some Some of the information is confidential. Some of the files are missing.
None None of the pizza is left. None of the sandwiches are left.
Any Any colour is fine with me. Any colours are fine with me.

Indefinite Pronouns vs Determiners

Indefinite pronouns and determiners are sometimes confused because some indefinite pronouns can also be used as determiners.

But fret not! To know if a word is being used as an indefinite pronoun or a determiner, we simply have to look at the role it plays in a sentence.

Indefinite pronouns: Replace nouns and can be subjects or objects. For example, 'everyone' can replace 'the team'.

Determiners: Modify nouns but don't replace them. They provide more details about the noun, like articles ('a', 'an', 'the'), demonstratives ('this', 'those'), quantifiers ('some', 'many'), and possessives ('my', their). The key difference is that indefinite pronouns replace nouns, while determiners modify nouns.

Pronoun Determiner
Few were ready to believe her reasons. There are few apples left.
Neither of them has told me about it. For this question, neither answer is correct.
I have a few good ideas, may I share some? Some people can't be on time.
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