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Indefinite pronoun

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Title: Indefinite pronoun  
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Subject: Personal pronoun, English grammar, Macedonian pronouns, Pronoun, Quantifier (linguistics)
Collection: Pronouns
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Indefinite pronoun

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that refers to non-specific beings, objects, or places.

Indefinite pronouns can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns and include a number of sub-categories: universal (such as everyone, everything), assertive existential (such as somebody, something), elective existential (such as anyone, anything), and negative (such as nobody, nothing).[1]

They are associated with indefinite determiners (sometimes called indefinite adjectives) 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".

List of English indefinite pronouns

Note that 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.

Notice that a singular pronoun takes a singular verb AND that any personal pronoun should also agree (in number and gender). Look at these examples:

  • Each of the players has a doctor.
  • I met two girls. One has given me her phone number.

Similarly, plural pronouns need plural agreement:

  • Many have expressed their views.

Table of indefinite pronouns

Number Type Negative Universal Assertive existential Elective existential* Other
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. one – One might see it that way. See also generic you.
Thing nothing – Nothing is true. everything – Everything is permitted something – Something makes me want to dance. anything – Anything can happen if you just believe. this – This can't be good.

[Universal distributive:]

See also -ever and who-.

Dual neither – In the end, neither was selected. both – Both are guilty. either – Either will do.
Plural
  • others – Others can worry about that.
Singular or plural wikt:none – None of those people is related to me.[1] all – All is lost. some – Some of the biscuits have been eaten. any – Any will do.
  • such – Such is life.

 *The elective existential pronouns are often used with negatives (I can't see anyone), and in questions (Is anyone coming?).

List of quantifier pronouns

English has the following quantifier pronouns:

Uncountable (thus, with a singular verb form)
  • enough – Enough is enough.
  • little – Little is known about this period of history.
  • less – Less is known about this period of history.
  • much – Much was discussed at the meeting.
  • more – More is better. (Also countable plural; see there.)
  • most – Most was rotten. (Usually specified, such as in most of the food.) (Also countable plural; see there.)
  • plenty – Thanks, that's plenty.
Countable, singular
  • one – One has got through. (Often modified or specified, such as in a single one, one of them etc.)
Countable, plural
  • several – Several were chosen.
  • few – Few were chosen.
  • fewer – Fewer are going to church these days.
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