Unit 10. Indefinite pronouns
- Indefinite pronouns refer to people or things without saying exactly who or what they are.
- When an indefinite pronoun is the subject, it always takes a singular verb.
- You often use a plural pronoun to refer back to an indefinite pronoun.
1. The indefinite pronouns are:
Note that "no one" is written as two words, or sometimes with a hyphen: "no-one".
2. You use indefinite pronouns when you want to refer to people or things without saying exactly who or what they are. The pronouns ending in "-body" and "-one" refer to people, and those ending in "-thing" refer to things.
I was there for over an hour before anybody came.
It had to be someone with a car.
Jane said nothing for a moment.
3. When an indefinite pronoun is the subject, it always takes a singular verb, even when it refers to more than one person or thing.
Everyone knows that.
Everything was fine.
Is anybody there?
When you refer back to indefinite pronouns, you use plural pronouns or possessives, and a plural verb.
Ask anyone. They 'II tell you.
Has everyone eaten as much as they want?
You can't tell somebody why they've failed.
WARNING: Some speakers prefer to use singular pronouns. They prefer to say "You can't tell somebody why he or she has failed".
4. You can add apostrophe s ('s) to indefinite pronouns that refer to people.
She was given a room in someone's studio.
That was nobody's business but mine.
WARNING: You do not usually add apostrophe s ('s) to indefinite pronouns that refer to things. You do not say "something's value", you say "the value of something".
5. You use indefinite pronouns beginning with "some-" in:
- affirmative clauses
I want to introduce you to someone.
- questions expecting the answer "yes"
Would you like something to drink?
Can you get someone to do it?
6. You use indefinite pronouns beginning with "any-":
- as the subject or object in statements
Anyone knows that you need a licence.
You still haven't told me anything.
I haven't given anyone their presents yet.
You do not use them as the subject of a negative statement. You do not say "Anybody can't come in".
- in both affirmative and negative questions
Does anybody agree with me?
Won't anyone help me?
7. If you use an indefinite pronoun beginning with "no-", you must not use another negative word in the same clause. You do not say "There wasn't nothing".
There was nothing you could do.
Nobody left, nobody went away.
8. You use the indefinite adverbs "anywhere", "everywhere", "nowhere", and "somewhere" to talk about places in a general way. "Nowhere" makes a clause negative.
I thought I'd seen you somewhere.
No-one can find Howard or Barbara anywhere.
There was nowhere to hide.
9. You can use "else" after indefinite pronouns and adverbs to refer to people, things, or places other than those that have been mentioned.
Everyone else is downstairs.
I don't like it here. Let's go somewhere else.