myQBook English Grammar Concepts

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

Many students think that the indefinite pronouns “everybody”, “everything”, and “everyone” are plural. This is not true. These pronouns are singular. Think of them as “every single thing.”

However, because these pronouns are singular, a conflict arises when a personal pronoun refers to them. For example, consider the following sentence:

Everybody brought his jacket to the hike.

Here, the personal pronoun “his” has “everybody” as its antecedent. Many people think using “his” or “her” alone is biased toward one gender. A common solution is to use “his/her”. Another solution is to change “everybody” to a plural pronoun so that the personal pronoun following it can also be plural. This way, it would be referring to both genders at the same time because the pronoun is plural. Then the sentence would read,

All of the people brought their jackets to the hike.

It is however, incorrect to say "Everybody brought their jackets to the hike," because “everybody” is singular, so the pronoun following it has to be singular, too. Unfortunately, this is an extremely common mistake.


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Indefinite Pronouns

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