myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Indefinite Pronouns

An indefinite pronoun doesn’t specify anything about its antecedent except for number. This category of pronouns has the most pronouns; some common ones are anyone, no one (and other words ending in –one) nobody, somebody, (and other words ending in -body), everything, anything, (and other words ending in –thing), many, few, both, all, either, neither several, each, and none.

Indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural. Sometimes, they can be either one, depending on what they refer to. Here are the common indefinite pronouns categorized into singular, plural, or both.

·         Singular: everyone, someone, anyone, everybody, nobody, somebody, anybody, everything, nothing, something, anything, each, either, neither, one, other, little, much, another

·         Plural: few, both, several, many,

·         Singular or plural: any, all, more, most, some, none

For example:

Singular: Nothing was wrong with the pipes, but Sam felt something just was not normal.

Here, the singular indefinite pronoun “nothing” requires the singular verb “was”. In the second independent clause, the singular indefinite pronoun “something” requires the singular verb “was”.

Plural: Few trees die in the new sanctuary.

In this sentence, the plural indefinite pronoun “few” requires the plural noun "trees" and the plural verb “die”.

Singular or plural: Most of the shelter was completely destroyed, but few animals were hurt. Most of the people at the shelter were very friendly.

Whether or not these indefinite pronouns are singular or plural depends on the noun they refer to. If the noun is singular, the indefinite pronoun is singular, and if the noun is plural, the indefinite pronoun is plural.

In the first example, the indefinite pronoun “most” is referring to the noun “shelter”; since “shelter” is singular, “most” is also singular. Therefore, the singular verb “was” is used.

In the second example, the indefinite pronoun “most” is referring to the noun “people”; since “people” is plural, “most” is also plural. Therefore, the plural verb “were” is used.


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Demonstrative Pronouns
Common Mistakes: Everybody, Everyone, Everything, and other Indefinite Pronouns: Singular or Plural?

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