An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun which does not have a specific, familiar referent. Indefinite pronouns are in contrast to definite pronouns.
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".
Most indefinite pronouns correspond to discretely singular or plural usage. However, some of them can entail singularity in one context and plurality in another. Pronouns that commonly connote indefiniteness are indicated below, with examples as singular, plural, or singular/plural usage.
|Number||Type||Negative||Universal||Assertive existential||Elective/dubitative existential[a]|
|Singular||Person||no one (also no-one), nobody – No one/Nobody thinks that you are mean.||everyone, everybody – Everyone/Everybody has a cup of coffee.
Universal distributive: each – "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".
|someone, somebody – Someone/Somebody usually fixes that.||anyone, anybody – Anyone/Anybody is welcome to submit an entry.|
|Thing||nothing – Nothing is true.||everything – Everything is permitted.||something – Something makes me want to dance.||
anything – Anything is better than nothing.
|Place||nowhere – Nowhere appeals to me; let's not eat out.||everywhere – Everywhere feels different when traveling.||somewhere – Somewhere is on fire in Canadian forest right now.||anywhere – Anywhere is better than my place.
wherever – Sit wherever you'd like.
|Time||never – Never happens twice in life.||forever – Forever makes me crazy.||sometime – Sometime was better than today in the past.||anytime – Anytime is better than never do it.|
|Dual||neither (singular) – In the end, neither was selected.||both (plural) – Both were surprised at the other’s answer. Both all the answers are correct.||either (singular) – Either is sufficient.|
|Plural||others – Others worry about that.||some/most – Some of the biscuits were eaten but most were still there. Are some of you still hungry? Aren't most of you want more biscuits?|
|Singular or Plural||none – None of those people is related to me.
None were deemed suitable in the end.[c]
|all – All is lost. All are where they're supposed to be.||such – Such is life. Such are the foibles of humans.||any – Any is too much. If any taste too salty, I apologize.
whatever – Play whatever strike your fancy. Whatever is required will be done.
|where – Where am I will go after death? Where were the good people should go?
when – When am I gonna die? When were my sins would be forgiven?
English has the following quantifier pronouns:
Some of the English indefinite pronouns above have possessive forms. These are made as for nouns, by adding 's or just an apostrophe following a plural -s (see English possessive).
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.