Unit 2.1

Indefinite Pronouns

Introduction

Pronouns are words used to avoid the repetition of a noun.

An indefinite pronoun does not refer to any specific person, thing or amount.

Form

Indefinite pronouns can be both subjects and objects:

  • when they are subjects, they appear before the verb;
  • when they are objects, they appear after the verb.

Some of them can be only singular or only plural, others can be used in both ways, depending on the context.

They have three forms: affirmative, negative and interrogative.

Affirmative

In the affirmative form, the indefinite pronouns are:

  • Anybody/Anything/Anywhere;
  • Everybody/Everything/Everywhere;
  • Nobody/Nothing/Nowhere*;
  • Somebody/Something/Somewhere: when subjects, they go before the verb.

*We cannot use them when a sentence starts with no. In this case, we use the any– structure.

Negative

In the negative form, the indefinite pronouns are:

  •  Anybody/Anything/Anywhere.

Interrogative

In the interrogative form, the indefinite pronouns are:

  • Anybody/Anything/Anywhere;
  • Everybody/Everything/Everywhere;
  • Something* (offerings)

*In this case something can be only the object.

Example

Affirmative:

  • If anybody wants the medium-seized T-shirt of the band, they can still buy it.
  • You have written everything in the catalogue.
  • There is nowhere we can find wedding dresses.
  • Somebody bought your portrait.

Negative:

  • I don’t need anybody to help me with my homework.
  • They don’t have anything to do with what happened.
  • You are not going anywhere.

Interrogative:

  • Is anybody listening to me?
  • Did they tell you anything about her?
  • Are there sales everywhere?
  • Can I offer you something to drink?

Use

Indefinite pronouns any, every, no and some refer to:

– people: when the word ends with -body or -one;
– objects: when the word ends with -thing*;
– places: when the word ends with -where.

We use:

  • Anybody/Anyone/Anything/Anywhere to refer to unspecified people, things or places;
  • Everybody/Everyone/Everything/Everywhere to indicate a total number of people, things or places;
  • Nobody/No one/Nothing/Nowhere to indicate that people, things or places are absent. They are already negative statements, so we need to use them in positive sentences to express negative meanings;
  • Somebody/Someone/Something/Somewhere to refer to unspecified people, things or places.

NOTE: We can put -one instead of –body, and this does not affect the meaning of the sentence: anyone, everyone, no one, someone

Summary

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to any specific person, thing or amount.

When indefinite pronouns appear before the verb, they are subjects; when they appear after the verb, they are objects.

The indefinite pronouns are any, every, no and some and they can have different endings. The ending -body or -one refer to people, the ending -thing refers to objects and the ending -where refers to places.

They can be found in the following forms: – Affirmative (all of them). – Negative (just any). – Interrogative (any, every and some).

For example:
“He doesn’t have anything to wear.” = Anything is used after not in negative sentences.
Everybody arrived late.” = We can use everybody as the subject in affirmative sentences.
Nobody arrived on time.” = Nobody is a negative statement, therefore we cannot use it in positive sentences.
Someone paid by cheque.” = We can use somebody as a subject in affirmative sentences.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises


Translations

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