Indefinite pronoun definition: An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that generally/indefinitely takes the place of a noun. Indefinite pronouns are unspecific in nature.
What is a Demonstrative Adjective?
What does indefinite pronoun mean? Indefinite pronouns take the place of nouns. Indefinite pronouns are unspecific in nature. They are “indefinite” because they do not identify any one thing specifically.
An example of a pronoun versus an indefinite pronoun will clarify this concept.
- George won the race.
Example with Pronoun Replacement:
- He won the race.
- This sentence is still specific in that the pronoun identifies a single male, “he.”
Example with Indefinite Pronoun Replacement:
- Somebody won the race.
- This sentence is not specific in that the pronoun, “somebody,” does not identify anyone specific.
Singular and Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns have singular and plural forms. Below is a list of indefinite pronouns in their singular and plural forms.
All Indefinite Pronoun List
Singular Indefinite Pronouns:
- no one
Plural Indefinite Pronouns:
Because indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural, the verb agreement also needs to be singular or plural.
Singular Indefinite Pronoun Examples:
- (without pronoun) Anthony answers the phone.
- (with pronoun) He answers the phone.
- (with indefinite pronoun) Someone answers the phone.
In this example, the verb, “answers”, is conjugated for the singular noun/pronoun.
Plural Indefinite Pronoun Examples:
- (without pronoun) The chefs celebrate with champagne.
- (with pronoun) They celebrate with champagne.
- (with indefinite pronoun) Some celebrate with champagne.
Some indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural.
Singular and Plural Indefinite Pronouns:
Regardless if singular or plural, verb conjugation needs to match the indefinite pronoun.
Singular and Plural Examples with Same Indefinite Pronoun:
- (singular without pronoun) The laundry is dirty.
- (singular with pronoun) It is dirty.
- (singular with indefinite pronoun) All is dirty.
- (plural without pronoun) The clothes are dirty.
- (plural with pronoun) They are dirty.
- (plural with indefinite pronoun) All are dirty.
Outside Examples of Indefinite Pronouns
- The cavers hadn’t been searching for fossils that day, but they knew someone who would be very eager to see them: a paleoanthropologist named Lee Berger. –The New Yorker
- To put it simply, it’s time we acknowledge that working parents have two jobs — the one at work and the one at home — and both are equally important to our economy. –PBS
Indefinite Pronouns vs. Indefinite Adjectives
Indefinite pronouns and indefinite adjectives look similar because they use the same terms. Indefinite adjectives are different in that they modify nouns, they do not replace them.
“Any” is a common indefinite adjective.
Here is an example of “any” used as an indefinite pronoun and adjective:
- I don’t have any.
- I don’t have any milk.
The first sentence uses any to replace an item (milk, perhaps) and is used as a pronoun.
The second sentence uses any as an adjective to modify milk, answering the question, “How much?”
Exercises with Indefinite Pronouns
Fill-in the blank with an appropriate indefinite pronoun and/or select the correct verb agreement.
- ______ want/wants to go to New York.
- They brought _____ to the party.
- __________ is/are a disaster!
See answers below.
Summary: What are Indefinite Pronouns?
Define indefinite pronoun: The definition of indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that generally or indefinitely represents an object already identified or not needing specific identification.
In summary, indefinite pronouns:
- are words that replace nouns
- are unspecific in nature
- require appropriate subject/verb agreement
- Somebody/someone/everyone/everybody/no one; wants
- some/something/everything/nothing/everybody/somebody/nobody/no one
- everything/is; all/are; both/are