An Easy Guide to Indefinite Pronouns in Spanish

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December 16, 2020

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There are lots of different types of pronoun in Spanish. Indefinite is just one type. In this article we look at the main ones and show you some examples of them in use.

Spanish Indefinite Pronouns

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that can be used to replace a noun. For example, the following sentence is pretty boring and unnatural:

"Lucy went to the shop because Lucy had run out of fruit for Lucy's apartment."

When we add pronouns (highlighted in bold), things look a lot better.

"Lucy went to the shop because she had run out of fruit for her apartment."
Shopping Fruit

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What makes an indefinite pronoun?

The indefinite pronouns in Spanish are called that because they don’t refer to a defined noun. They're unspecific, and they don't refer to a definite, concrete noun (whereas above, both 'she' and 'her' clearly refer to Lucy). Instead, they refer to unknown people, objects, and thoughts.

What about indefinite adjectives?

A lot of the time in Spanish, pronouns and adjectives have some sneaky overlapping areas. We're going to focus on words which we'll call indefinite pronouns, but bear in mind that those same words can also be used with nouns, which turns them into indefinite adjectives. For example:

Indefinite pronounIndefinite adjective
Tengo bastante. ('I have enough.')Tengo bastante dinero. ('I have enough money.')

Sometimes we use pronouns as adjectives, and sometimes we use adjectives as pronouns. The difference can be extremely subtle, so don’t worry too much about getting it exactly right every time! Even within this article you might spot some overlaps.

Algo = something, anything

Tengo que hacer algo.I have to do something.
¿Quieres algo para comer?Do you want anything to eat?
Quiero comer algo pero no sé qué.I want to eat something but I don't know what.

Nada = nothing, not anything

No he hecho nada.I haven’t done anything.
No quiero comer nada.I don’t want to eat anything.
No hay nada que puedas hacer para compensar.There isn't anything you can do to redeem yourself.

Alguien= somebody, anybody

Quiero alguien que me quiera.I want somebody who loves me.
Alguien está en la casa.Someone is in the house.
¿Hay alguien aquí que sepa realizar RCP?Is there anybody here who knows how to perform CPR?

Nadie = nobody

Nadie sabe cocinar como tú.Nobody knows how to cook like you.
No vino nadie a la fiesta.No one came to the party.
No hay nadie en la casa.There is nobody in the house.

Alguno/a/os/as = some, one (or more)

Alguno sabrá la respuesta.One or other of them will know the answer.
Voy a tomar fotos de algunas de las jirafas.I’m going to take photos of some of the giraffes.

Ninguno/a/os/as = none, not any, nobody

Pedro tiene muchos amigos pero yo no tengo ninguno.Pedro has a lot of friends but I don’t have any.
No quiero ningunas.I don’t want any.

Mucho/a/os/as = much, many, a lot

Me costó mucho. It cost me a lot.
¿No tienes vergüenza?
Sí, mucha.
Don’t you have any shame?
Yes, a lot.

Poco/a/os/as = little, a little, few, a few

Es un poco caro.It’s a bit expensive.
Me quedan pocas.I don’t have many left.
Es poco.It's little/not much.

Bastante(s) = enough

¿Tienes muchos empleados?
Tengo bastantes.
Do you have a lot of employees?
I have enough.
Gracias, un vaso es bastante. Un vaso basta*.Thank you, one glass is sufficient. One glass will suffice.

*Note the similarity between the word 'bastante' and the word 'basta.'

Glass Water

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Demasiado/a/os/as = too much, too many

No me des más. Ya tengo demasiado.Don’t give me more. I already have enough.
Vinieron demasiadas.Too many came.

Uno/a/os/as = one, some

Unos dicen que lo más importante es la felicidad. Otros dicen que lo más importante es el dinero.Some say that the most important thing is happiness. Others say that the most important thing is money.
Gracias. Te debo una.Thank you. I owe you one.
Queda uno.There is one left.

Tanto = so much, as much

No llores tanto.Don’t cry so much.
Yo nunca me atrevería a tanto.I would never be so daring.

Todo/a/os/as = everything, all

Parece que ella lo tiene todo, pero tiene problemas personales.It seems like she has it all, but she does have personal problems.
Los he leído todos.I’ve read them all.
Te amo y te puedo dar todo.I love and you I can give you everything.

Cada uno/cada una = each one

Cada uno tiene su opinión.Each one (each person) has their opinion.
Tienes que verificar cada una.You have to check each one.

Varios/as = a few, some, several

Tengo varios en casa.I have several at home.
Hay varias.There are several.

Otro/a/os/as = another one, other one, some other(s)

Pásame el otro.Pass me the other one.
Unos cantan. Otros bailan. Yo no hago nada.Some sing. Others dance. I don’t do anything.
Quisiera otra.I’d like another one.

Cualquiera/cualesquiera* = any, any one, anybody

Cualquiera puede solicitar a este trabajo.Anybody can apply to this job.
¿Cuál de los libros quieres?
No importa. Cualquiera, por favor.
Which of the books do you want?
It doesn’t matter. Any, please.
Cualesquiera* que sean sus excusas, su comportamiento fue inaceptable.Whatever his excuses may be, his behaviour was unacceptable.

*This plural form is rare these days!

Los/las demás = the others, the rest

Voy a ver a los demás mañana.I’m going to see the others tomorrow.
¿Dónde están las demás?Where are the others?

Quiz

Questions Quiz

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Time for a few quiz questions! For each example, try to choose the most appropriate indefinite pronoun.

1. Yo no tengo _ que decirte. (I’ve got nothing to say to you.)

      a. nadie

      b. nada

      c. ninguno

Click to reveal the correct answer:

B. nada

 

2. _ nos podrá ayudar. (Somebody will be able to help us.)

      a. Alguien

      b. Cualesquiera

      c. Unos

Click to reveal the correct answer:

a. Alguien

3. Detenga el video. He visto _. (Stop the video. I’ve seen enough.)

      a. poco

      b. bastante

Click to reveal the correct answer:

b. bastante

4. Hay _ ahí sobre la mesa. Pásame _, por favor. (There are some over there on the table. Could you please pass me one?)

      a. uno, alguna

      b. unas, alguno

      c. algunas, una

Click to reveal the correct answer:

c. algunas, una

 

5. _ estarán en la otra aula. (The others will be in the other classroom.)

      a. Los demás

      b. Demasiados

      c. Unos

Click to reveal the correct answer:

a. Los demás

Great job!

It can be tricky to get your head around the idea of a pronoun referring to an undefined noun, but hopefully this article has given you some helpful insight. ¡Hasta la próxima!

About the author 

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

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