Indefinite Pronouns

Pronoms indéfinis

Indefinite pronouns are vague – they either refer to unspecific nouns or make sweeping generalizations.

Par exemple…

Si tu aimes cette idée, j’en ai d’autres.   If you like that idea, I have others.
Il y a quelque chose qui cloche.   There’s something amiss.

Characteristics of indefinite pronouns

  1. Replace indefinite adjective + noun
  2. Several are identical to French indefinite adjectives
  3. May need to agree with the noun they replace in gender or number

French indefinite pronouns

Masculine   Feminine    
un autre   une autre   another one
d’autres   d’autres   others
certains   certaines   certain ones
chacun   chacune   each one
on       one, someone
plusieurs   plusieurs   several
quelque chose       something 
quelqu’un       someone
quelques-uns    quelques-unes    some, a few
quiconque       anyone
soi       oneself
tel       someone, anyone
tout       everything
tout le monde       everyone
un   une   one

Using indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are a varied lot; there are a number of characteristics and rules that apply to some but not all of them.

Agreement

  • Un autre has to agree with the noun it replaces in number: when plural, it becomes d’autres.
  • Un autre, certains, chacun, quelques-uns, and un have to agree with the nouns they replace in gender.
  • The other indefinite pronouns are invariable.

Antecedent

Autre, d’autres, certains, chacun, plusieurs, and quelques-uns require an antecedent: a previously mentioned or implied noun that makes it obvious they are replacing.

J’ai trois enfants, et chacun fait son propre lit.   I have three kids, and each one makes his own bed.
Il a pris deux bières et une autre l’attend sur la table.   He’s had two beers and another is waiting for him on the table.

Quantity

Autre, d’autres, certains, plusieurs, and quelques-uns express quantities, and when they are the object of the verb, the adverbial pronoun en is required along with the indefinite pronoun to replace the noun.

Merci d’avoir répondu à ma question, mais j’en ai d’autres.   Thank you for answering my question, but I have others.
– J’ai oublié d’acheter les bougies !
– Pas de problème, j’en ai quelques-unes.
  – I forgot to buy candles!
– No problem, I have some.

Verb conjugations

  • Un autre, chacun, quelque chose, quelqu’un, quiconque, tel, tout, tout le monde, and un are singular and therefore always take the third person singular verb conjugation.
Tout le monde est arrivé sain et sauf.   Everyone arrived safe and sound.
Quelque chose ne va pas.   Something is wrong.
  • D’autres, certains, plusieurs, and quelques-uns are plural and take the third person plural.
  • On is a special case.

D’entre + pronoun / De + noun

Chacun, plusieurs, quelques-uns, and un can be followed by d’entre plus a plural stressed pronoun or by the preposition de plus a noun.

Chacun d’entre vous doit le remercier.   Each one of you has to thank him.
Une de mes amies est avocate.   One of my friends is a lawyer.

De + adjective

When quelque chose and quelqu’un are used with an adjective, the preposition de is required.

Quelque chose d’inattendu m’est arrivé.   Something unexpected happened to me.
J’ai vu quelqu’un de suspect.   I saw someone suspicious-looking.

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French indefinite pronouns


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