English Grammar Review
Nouns and Pronouns

Indefinite Pronouns

When it's not specific or definite what a pronoun refers to, we call it an indefinite pronoun.

Someone is from Europe.
[who? - indefinite]

Others are from England.
[who? - indefinite]

When we use indefinite pronouns, we must keep track of two things:

(1) Should it be singular or plural?

(2) Does it match what it is supposed to match?

Example:

All of the money is counted. [singular]

    { All of this is X. }

All of the accounts are full. [plural]

    { All of these are Y. }

Some indefinite pronouns are always singular:

anyone . everyone . no one . someone

anybody . everybody . nobody . somebody

anything . everything . nothing . something

one . another . either . neither . each . every

The first step in making things match is in the number (singular/plural) of the verb.

Everybody in the building is required to leave. [correct]

Everybody in the building are required to leave. [wrong]

The second step in making things match is in the number of any pronoun that refers to the indefinite pronoun.

Every department has its own policy. [correct]

Every department has their own policy. [wrong]

Remembering how to properly use indefinite pronouns requires familiarity. (It takes time.) Repetition can help. Read the following silly sentences out loud:

Anyone is, everyone is, no one is, someone is at the door.

Anybody is, everybody is, nobody is, somebody is on the floor.

Anything is, everything is, nothing is, something is really sore.

One croissant is buttery; another croissant is nuttery.

Each cheese is labeled; every cheese is fabled.

Either wine is chilled; neither wine is spilled.

Some indefinite pronouns are always plural:

many . few . several . others . both

Again, we start by matching the verb:

Others in the carpool feel safe with Armand's driving.

Then we make sure that pronouns that refer to our indefinite pronoun match the number of our indefinite pronoun:

Several people in the carpool decided to drive themselves.

For improved familiarity, read the following silly sentences out loud:

Many are called; few are chosen.

Several were mauled; others were frozen.

Both were bald; both were posing.

Some indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural, depending on the thing they refer to.

all . any . more . most . some . none

An example of singular matches:

Some of the research has been shared, but it has not been critiqued.

An example of plural matches:

Some of the supervisors have not scheduled their performance reviews.

For memory practice, let's get right to the silliness:

All of me is curious.
All of them are furious.

Any of your skin is worth preserving.
Any of your freckles are quite deserving.

More of the truth is needed now.
More of her hints were heeded, how?

Some of the crowd is still and quiet.
Some of them want to start a riot.

Most of the week was overbooked.
Most of my days were overlooked.

Some of the staff is missing.
Some of the children are kissing.

None of my group is formal.
None of my friends are normal.

We remember best when we hear the sounds of the correct combinations.

Lesson: Indefinite Pronouns
Module: Nouns and Pronouns
Course: English Grammar Review