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How to Teach Indefinite Pronouns (With Examples)

Teaching indefinite pronouns is crucial for fostering effective communication skills, as these pronouns enable individuals to express ideas with clarity and flexibility, especially when referring to unspecified or general entities. In this resource, we will show you how to teach indefinite pronouns to your ESL students so that they can understand and use common indefinite pronouns in English.

Understanding and using indefinite pronouns equips learners with the linguistic tools necessary for conveying information in a concise and versatile manner. They will explore how words like someone, anything, nobody, and everything are used to refer to non-specific people, things, and places. Mastery of these pronouns makes it easier to express ideas and thoughts where specifics are unknown or unnecessary.

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What are Indefinite Pronouns?

Indefinite pronouns are a category of pronouns that do not specifically point to any particular person, thing, amount, or place. Instead, they refer to non-specific or unidentified entities in a general sense. These pronouns are used when the speaker or writer wants to make statements about people or things without specifying who or what they are. Examples of indefinite pronouns include words like “everyone,” “somebody,” “anyone,” “nothing,” “all,” and “each.” These pronouns play a versatile role in language, as they can function as subjects, objects, or possessive forms in sentences, depending on the context.

Indefinite pronouns are particularly useful when the exact identity of the subject or object is unknown, irrelevant, or when the speaker wants to make a broad, general statement. They help maintain clarity and flexibility in language by allowing communication without the need for specific details about the entities being referred to.

Teaching Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are employed to denote an unspecified or unidentified person, place, thing, or idea. Unlike specific nouns, indefinite pronouns lack a direct antecedent. They exhibit a broader and more general scope compared to other pronoun types.

Here are 3 ways indefinite pronouns can be used:

Indefinite Pronouns for People

Indefinite pronouns for people end in “one” or “body”. Here are some examples:

  • somebody
  • everybody
  • anybody
  • nobody
  • someone
  • everyone
  • anyone
  • no one

Explain to your students that words that end in “one” or “body” are indefinite pronouns referring to people.

Indefinite Pronouns for Places

Indefinite pronouns for places end in “where”. Here are some examples:

  • somewhere
  • everywhere
  • anywhere
  • nowhere

Explain to your students that words that end in “where” are indefinite pronouns that refer to places.

Indefinite Pronouns for Things

Indefinite pronouns for things end in “thing”. Here are some examples:

  • something
  • everything
  • anything
  • nothing

Explain to your students that words that end in “thing” are indefinite pronouns that refer to things.

Plural Indefinite Pronouns

A plural indefinite pronoun refers to a group of people, things, or entities in a non-specific manner. These pronouns are used when the exact number or identity of the individuals or objects is unknown or irrelevant. Examples of plural indefinite pronouns include “both,” “few,” “many,” “several,” and “others.” These pronouns help avoid specifying the exact quantity or identity of the elements being referred to, providing flexibility and generality in language.

Plural indefinite pronouns can be taught by explaining that sometimes there are situations where you want to refer to an unspecified number or group of people, places, things, or ideas. In this case, plural indefinite pronouns must be used. Here are some examples:

  • Both
  • Few
  • Fewer
  • Many
  • Others
  • Several

Explain to your students that these words replace an unspecified number of people, places, things, or ideas.

Indefinite Pronouns Exercises

We will provide several exercises you can use to teach indefinite pronouns to your students.

Spot the Indefinite Pronouns

In this exercise, ask your students to identify the indefinite pronouns in each sentence.

SentenceIndefinite Pronoun
Does anyone like chocolate cake?
Nobody likes my pizza.
She told me everything is fine
I can’t believe anything he says.
Nothing is making sense today.
I saw no one in the bathroom.
I came to see everyone.
I keep seeing this girl everywhere.
I’d be happy to take you anywhere.
Find me someone who can do the job.
Everybody makes mistakes.
If you could be anyone, who would you be?
Somebody ate my dinner.
Somewhere over the rainbow.
There is nowhere to hide.
I said something she didn’t like.

Choose the Correct Indefinite Pronoun

In this exercise, ask your students to choose the correct indefinite pronoun in each sentence.

SentenceIndefinite Pronoun
I rang the doorbell but anybody / nobody answered.
There is anywhere / nowhere in the world I’d rather be.
Everybody / anybody in the world was angry with him.
It’s not for everybody / anybody.
I haven’t got nothing / anything to say.
Did you hear something / anything I’ve just said?
Could we go anywhere / somewhere fun?

Finish the Sentences Below

In this exercise, ask your students to finish the sentences below so that they are true for them.

SentenceFinish the Sentence
This week, I haven’t been anywhere…
Everything on my desk is…
I know that somewhere it is…
Nobody in my family likes watching…
Today, I ate something…
No one at school can…
Can you tell someone about…
Everyone seems to like…

Respond to Each Question

In this exercise, ask your students to respond to each question using the correct indefinite pronouns.

Does anyone like my pizza recipe?
Is that somewhere you want to go?
Do you need anything?
Does someone you know run marathons?
Have you been anywhere fun?
Why does everybody wear those shoes?
Does anybody you know wake up at 6 am?

Add Plural Indefinite Pronouns to Each Sentence

In this exercise, ask your students to replace nouns with plural indefinite pronouns in each sentence.

Plural Indefinite PronounSentenceSentence with Plural Indefinite Pronoun
BothI need eggs and flour to make a cake.I need both to make a cake.
FewOnly Peter and John came to the party
BothWe need the key and the sword to unlock the gate.
ManyThey neighbors expressed concern about the law.
SeveralKathy and Lacey raised their hands in support.
OthersWe love to travel, but Kyle and Jim don’t.
FewerLess people voted this year than ever.

Final Thoughts on Teaching Indefinite Pronouns to Your Students

Thank you for reading this resource on how to teach Indefinite pronouns to your students. Incorporating lessons on indefinite pronouns is indispensable for students as it equips them with essential linguistic tools for effective communication. By grasping the usage of pronouns like someone, anything, nobody, and others, students develop the ability to express ideas with precision and adaptability. This linguistic skill not only enhances their writing and speaking abilities but also fosters clarity in communication by allowing them to navigate through scenarios where specific details are unknown or irrelevant. Mastery of indefinite pronouns empowers students to articulate thoughts and convey information with confidence and fluency.

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John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

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