SAT Study Guide/Part 4 - The Writing Section/Identifying Sentence Errors/Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite PronounsEdit

Indefinite pronouns, like everyone, anyone or few, can include an unspecified number of unspecified objects. There are special rules that govern these nouns.

Indefinite Pronouns that Sound PluralEdit

The following words sound plural but require singular verb.

  • each
  • either
  • neither
  • the bodies
    1. anybody
    2. everybody
    3. somebody
    4. nobody
  • the ones
    1. anyone
    2. everyone
    3. someone
    4. somebody

The following examples illustrate their correct usage:

Each person is different.
Each boy and girl gets one carton of milk.
Either boy is suitable for the job.
Neither person lives here.
Anyone who registers for this account will receive a marker.

All of the pronouns define something that applies to everyone in the collection. This is why we use the singular verb. However, remember to apply the rules we learned in previous sections. The sentence

Either the democrats or the Republicans are going to win the election

has no errors. the Republicans is a plural verb and is closer to the verb so the verb takes a plural form. This is because the subjects are joined by an "or".

Indefinite Pronouns with Plural VerbsEdit

The following indefinite pronouns need plural verbs:

  • several
  • both
  • many
  • few

Each of these pronouns imply multiple objects and therefore need plural verbs. The following examples demonstrate their correct usage:

Both dogs are in the house.
Few children are going to be excluded from the trip.

Indefinite Pronouns with Verbs in ContextEdit

These indefinite pronouns need either a singular or plural verb depending on the context of the sentence:

  • any
  • some
  • most
  • all
  • none

These pronouns need a singular verb when they refer to a singular noun but need a plural noun when they refer to a plural noun. The following examples demonstrate the correct usage of these pronouns:

Some of the dogs are sick.
Some of the cake is eaten.
Most of the cake is left.
Most of the children are gone.
None of the wall is now visible.
None of the pencils are sharpened.

When the pronoun references a singular object, we can use a singular verb but when it references a plural object, we need to change the verb.

Last modified on 27 August 2009, at 20:53