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INDEFINITE PRONOUNS: SOME, ANY, NO + COMPOUNDS

Indefinite pronouns are used when we want to speak about people or things but we don’t know who or what they are or this is not important.

We use some/any/no + body/one to refer to people and some/any/no + thing to refer to things, events, ideas or activities:

Is anything the matter, dear?

Somebody called but didn’t leave their name.

Everybody knows him in this town.

He said nothing.

Indefinite pronouns are always followed by a verb in the third person singular:

Nobody washes the dishes in this house!

But when we refer back to an indefinite pronoun, we use third person plural pronouns:

If anyone came here, they’d be surprised at the change.

Everybody brought their picnic baskets and had a great time by the river.

We can use the possessive ‘s with indefinite pronouns that refer to people but not with those that refer to things:

I think she decided to stay at someone’s house rather than at a hotel.

We can give more information about the person or thing referred to by the indefinite pronoun by adding an adjective, a relative clause or a phrase:

We need somebody experienced.

Drinking is forbidden for anybody who is under 18.

There’s nothing wrong with being rich and famous.

We add else when we refer to a different person or thing from the one already mentioned:

In a village like this, everybody knows what everybody else is doing.

Remember!

All indefinite pronouns are written as one word except no one.

In formal English, the third person singular he is used to refer back to an indefinite pronoun but many people consider this use sexist.

Negative indefinite pronouns are always used with verbs in the affirmative.

Indefinite pronouns beginning with any can’t be subjects of a negative sentence.

Learning tip

Think about what you have done this week. Write six sentences in your notebook describing your experiences and using six different indefinite pronouns. For example: I went to the library on Saturday but nobody I knew was there.

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