indefinite pronoun – pronom indéfini

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Let's Define It!

What's an *indefinite pronoun*?

Before we try and define an indefinite pronoun (pronom indéfini), first, let's remind everyone what a pronoun is or does.

A pronoun is a word or group of word whose sole function is to stand for (i.e. replace) a noun.

Now that we got this out of the way, what about "indefinite"? Well, indefinite in this grammatical context simply means, non-specific, vague, general, or random.

An indefinite pronoun is one that indicates quantity or identity in a non-specific or general manner. So for example, when you say,

"Il a mangé quelque chose."

quelque chose is an indefinite pronoun, indefinite because it still hides the real identity of the thing eaten, and a pronoun, because it is a placeholder for any noun you'd want to type in there.

Or look at this other example -- this time an indefinite pronoun about quantity.

A- Tu as déjà parlé aux nouveaux élèves? /You already spoke to the new pupils?

B - Oui, j'ai parlé à certains. / Yes, I spoke to some (of them).

  • The certains in this case is a pronoun replacing the nominal phrase nouveaux élèves. However it is indefinite because we don't know the exact number of new pupils greeted by the subject "I".

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Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?

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Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

Find below a few sentences including some indefinite pronouns:

  • Quelqu'un m'a dit bonjour tout à l'heure. /Someone told me hello a little while ago.
  • Beaucoup pensent que le monde va à la dérive. / Many think that the world is losing its ways.
  • Tu as dit quelque chose? / You said something?

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Let's Take a Quiz!

What did you learn?