Pronouns are everywhere. He, she, they, it — these are all definite pronouns. You know who or what you’re talking about, and you can summon up an image in your mind when you use a pronoun instead of a specific name.
But what about indefinite pronouns? When, how, and why are they used? And what images do they conjure? You likely already use them every day, but we’ll explain them in more detail so you can definitely identify indefinite pronouns.
When To Use Indefinite Pronouns
If definite pronouns are used when you know who (or what) you’re talking about, then indefinite pronouns are for less specific people, places, or things.
These words are for when specific amounts, objects, or scenarios are unknown. Indefinite pronouns might indicate an open option:
- Someone should go to the store.
- We can go anywhere.
- There’s nothing you can’t do.
Indefinite pronouns have plenty of applications, and they can be boiled down to just about anything that doesn’t have a single target, making them useful in endless (indefinite) scenarios and statements.
Plurals and Possessives
Indefinite pronouns have plural and possessive forms, but pluralizing them isn’t as simple as putting an “S” on the end. There are specific words to indicate multiple nonspecific items. These plural indefinite pronouns indicate that the number is more than one but not concrete.
Possessive indefinite pronouns are much simpler, made by adding an apostrophe and an “S.” You can say "anyone’s food," "no one’s house," or "someone’s dog." However, you can’t make plural indefinite pronouns possessive. "Many's" just doesn't work.
What About Indefinite Adjectives?
Sometimes plural indefinite pronouns become indefinite adjectives (also known as determiners). When what would be an indefinite pronoun is used alongside another noun, it turns into an indefinite adjective. At that point, it’s describing the noun instead of becoming one. "Some crayons," "several ducks," and "many cars" all describe a population of a certain item without identifying an exact number of things.