Indefinite pronouns can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns. They often have related forms across these categories: universal (such as everyone, everything), assertive existential (such as somebody, something), elective existential (such as anyone, anything), and negative (such as nobody, nothing).
Many languages distinguish forms of indefinites used in affirmative contexts from those used in non-affirmative contexts. For instance, English "something" can be used only in affirmative contexts while "anything" is used otherwise.
Indefinite pronouns are associated with indefinite determiners of a similar or identical form (such as every, any, all, some). A pronoun can be thought of as replacing a noun phrase, while a determiner introduces a noun phrase and precedes any adjectives that modify the noun. Thus all is an indefinite determiner in "all good boys deserve favour" but a pronoun in "all are happy".
Many of these words can function as other parts of speech too, depending on context. For example, in many disagree with his views the word "many" functions as an indefinite pronoun, while in many people disagree with his views it functions as a quantifier (a type of determiner) that qualifies the noun "people". Example sentences in which the word functions as an indefinite pronoun are given.
Most indefinite pronouns are either singular or plural. However, some of them can be singular in one context and plural in another. The most common indefinite pronouns are listed below, with examples, as singular, plural or singular/plural.
A singular pronoun takes a singular verb. Also, any personal pronoun should also agree (in number and gender):
Similarly, plural pronouns need plural agreement:
|Singular||Person||no one (also no-one), nobody - No one/Nobody thinks that you are mean.||everyone, everybody - Everyone/Everybody had a cup of coffee.||someone, somebody - Someone/Somebody should fix that.||anyone, anybody - Anyone/Anybody can see this.|
|Thing||nothing - Nothing is true.||everything - Everything is permitted.||something - Something makes me want to dance.||anything - Anything can happen if you just believe.|
|Dual||neither - In the end, neither was selected.||both - Both are guilty.||either - Either will do.|
|Singular or plural||none - None of those people is related to me.[c]||all - All is lost.||some - Some of the biscuits have been eaten.||any - Any will do.|
English has the following quantifier pronouns:
The most commonly encountered possessive forms of the above pronouns are:
Most of these forms are identical to a form representing the pronoun plus -'s as a contraction of is or has. Hence someone's may also mean someone is or someone has, as well as serving as a possessive.
Two indefinite pronouns can sometimes be used in combination together.
And they can also be made possessive by adding an apostrophe and s.