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Indefinite pronouns - Easy Learning Grammar

The indefinite pronouns are used when you do not know or do not need to say precisely who or what you are referring to. The noun phrase which they substitute for can refer to a person, a thing, or a group of people or things, in which gender and number are not made clear.
  • Someone will have to tell her that she’s failed.
  • Everybody had a wonderful time.
  • Anything is better than nothing.
  • Nothing can make up for this loss.
  • Some people like that sort of thing. Others don’t.
The indefinite pronouns can be grouped according to meaning, as follows:
  • AGeneral amounts and quantities: most, some, none, any, all, both, half, several, enough, many, each.
    • Many find it impossible to cope.
    • Congratulations from all at the club.
    • Judging by the comments, most wanted her to stay on.
    • Although we lost a lot of stuff in the fire, some was saved.
    • Enough has been said on this topic to fill a book.
  • BChoice or alternatives: either, neither.
    • Could you bring me one of those spanners? Either will do.
    • Neither was keen on a traditional wedding.
  • CUndefined singular or multiple persons and things:
  • someonesomebodysomething
    no onenobodynothing
    Note the form of no one or, less usually, no-one.
    • The pronouns in group C that refer to people can cause problems concerning the number and gender of a following determiner or pronoun. Traditionally, only the use of a following singular form was permitted. Common practice uses the plural form their and avoids awkward expressions like his or her.
    • Everybody has their ups and downs.
    • Has anybody finished their lunch yet?
    • No one in their right mind goes on holiday there in January.
    Many of these pronouns, especially those in groups A and B, have the same form as determiners. See Determiners.
    • The way to tell them apart is to see if the word on its own is used as a subject, an object, or the complement of a verb; if it is, it is a pronoun. If, on the other hand, it is used in front of a noun, it is a determiner.
    • As a pronoun:
    • Both were given life sentences.
    • Several managed to escape.
    • I’ve found some!
    • As a determiner:
    • Both men were given life sentences.
    • Several sheep managed to escape.
    • I’ve found some scrap paper.
    • The pronouns in Groups A and B are often used like partitives, with of and a noun phrase or a personal pronoun.
    • None of the children were hurt, but most of them were rather upset.
    • Neither of his parents remarried.

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