Agreement with Indefinite Pronouns:

A Guide to Improving Your Writing

Have you ever read a sentence that just didn`t sound right? Perhaps it was because the verb didn`t agree with the pronoun. In particular, indefinite pronouns can cause confusion regarding verb agreement. In this guide, we`ll explore what indefinite pronouns are and how to properly match them with verbs.

What Are Indefinite Pronouns?

Indefinite pronouns are words that replace nouns without specifying a clear referent. Examples include “everyone,” “someone,” “anybody,” “nobody,” “everything,” and “anything.” They are often used to refer to a group of people or things without naming each one.

The Problem with Indefinite Pronouns

The challenge with indefinite pronouns is that they can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. For instance, “everyone” is singular in meaning, while “some” can be either singular or plural. Therefore, if you`re not careful, your verb agreement can become incorrect and confusing.

Singular Indefinite Pronouns

Singular indefinite pronouns require singular verbs. “Everyone is going to the party.” “Nobody wants to be late.” “Somebody is knocking at the door.” In each of these sentences, the verb agrees with the singular subject of the sentence.

Plural Indefinite Pronouns

Plural indefinite pronouns require plural verbs. “Some are more equal than others.” “Many were left behind.” “Few are happy with the results.” In these examples, the verbs match the plural subjects.

Indefinite Pronouns That Can Be Either Singular or Plural

However, there are some indefinite pronouns that can be either singular or plural depending on the context. These include “any,” “most,” “several,” “all,” and “none.” To determine whether to use a singular or plural verb, consider the noun that the pronoun is replacing. If it is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.

For example, “All of the cake is gone.” Here, “cake” is singular, so the verb “is” is singular. On the other hand, “All of the students are gone.” Here, “students” is plural, so the verb “are” is also plural.


Proper indefinite pronoun agreement is essential to clear and effective writing. By taking the time to match your verbs with your indefinite pronouns, you can avoid confusion and keep your readers engaged. Remember to determine whether your indefinite pronouns are singular, plural, or can be either, and be sure to use the appropriate verb form.