Using Italian Indefinite Pronouns

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Like indefinite adjectives (aggettivi indefiniti), in Italian indefinite pronouns (pronomi indefiniti) refer in general (rather than specific) terms to persons, places, or things without specifying the noun which they replace.

Italian indefinite pronouns that can function as both pronouns and adjectives include:

    alcuno—any
    alquanto—somewhat
    altro—more
    certo—some
    diverso—different
    molto—very
    parecchio—some
    poco—little
    taluno—someone
    tanto—so
    troppo—too
    tutto—all
    vario—various

    Di questi vasi alcuni sono grandi, altri piccoli.
    Some of these vessels are big, others are small.

    Diversi lasciarono la scuola definitivamente.
    Several left the school permanently.

    Molti sono partiti subito, certi il martedì, solo pochi rimasero.
    Many left immediately, some on Tuesday, and only a few remained.

    Troppi parlano senza riflettere.
    Too many (people) talk without thinking.

    E non sa ancora tutto.
    He (she) still does not know everything.

    NOTE! The term tale/tali (such), which can function as both a pronoun and an adjective, only has a singular and plural form.

    • The indefinite pronouns that have only a singular form.

    uno—a
    ciascuno—each
    nessuno—nobody, no one

    Venne uno a darci la notizia.
    Someone came to give us the news.

    A ciascuno il suo.
    To each his own.

    Nessuno ha preparato la colazione.
    No one has prepared the breakfast.

    Italian indefinite pronouns that function only as pronouns include:

    • The indefinite invariable pronouns (gli indefiniti invariabili).

    alcunché—anything
    checché—whatever
    chicchessia—anyone, anybody
    chiunque—anyone
    niente—nothing
    nulla—nothing
    qualcosa—something

    Non c'è alcunché di vero in ciò che dici.
    There is no truth in what you say.

    Checché tu ne dica, farò come credo.
    Whatever you may say (about it), I will do as I believe.

    Non dirlo a chicchessia.
    Do not tell anyone.

    A chiunque mi cerchi, dite che tornerò domani.
    If anyone is looking for me, tell them that I'll be back tomorrow.

    Niente di tutto ciò è vero.
    None of this is true.

    Non serve a nulla gridare.
    There is no use shouting.

    Ha dimenticato di comprare qualcosa, ne sono sicuro!
    He forgot to buy something, I'm sure!

    • The indefinite pronouns that have only a singular form.

    ognuno—each
    qualcuno—someone

    Ognuno è responsabile di sé stesso.
    Everyone is responsible for himself.

    Qualcuno chiami un medico.
    Someone call a doctor.

    The indefinite pronouns nessuno, ognuno, chiunque, and chicchessia refer only to people:

    • Nessuno (nobody, no one), when it precedes the verb, is used alone; when it follows the verb it is always reinforced by the negation non, which is placed before the verbal form.

    Nessuno può condannarlo.
    No one can condemn him.

    Mio fratello non vide arrivare nessuno.
    My brother did not see anyone coming.

    • Ognuno (everyone, everybody; each) is used to refer to each individual of a collection or group.

      Desidero parlare con ognuno di voi.
      I want to talk with each of you.

      • Chiunque (anyone) is invariable and corresponds to qualunque persona (che); it can serve both as subject and complement (in two different clauses).

      È un libro che consiglio a chiunque abbia senso dell'umorismo.
      It is a book that I recommend to anyone with a sense of humor.

      • Chicchessia (anyone, anybody), infrequently used, corresponds to chiunque.

      Riferiscilo pure a chicchessia.
      Report it also to anyone.

      The indefinite pronouns qualcosa, niente, nulla, alcunché, and checché are used only to refer to things:

      • Qualcosa means "one or more things."

      Per cena, qualcosa preparerò.
      I will prepare something for dinner.

      Ti prego, dimmi qualcosa.
      Please tell me something.

      NOTE! The term qualcosa come corresponds to the expression all'incirca (roughly).

      Ho vinto qualcosa come tre milioni.
      I won something like three million.

      • Niente and nulla, negative indefinite pronouns (pronomi indefiniti negativi), mean "nothing"; if either term follows the verb they are accompanied by the negation non (which is placed before the verbal form).

        Niente è successo.
        Nothing happened.

        Non è successo niente.
        Nothing happened.

        • Alcunché (anything), infrequently used, corresponds to qualcosa; in negative sentences it means "nothing."

        C'era alcunché di curioso nel suo incedere.
        There was nothing strange in his gait.

        Non dire alcunché di offensivo.
        Do not say anything offensive.

        • Checché (whatever), an obsolete form, is a compound pronoun (one indefinite and one relative); it has the meaning of "anything that" and serves as subject and complement.

        Checché Luigi dica, non mi convincerà.
        Whatever Louis says, he couldn't convince me.

        The indefinite pronouns uno, qualcuno, alcuno, taluno, ciascuno, altro, troppo, parecchio, molto, poco, tutto, tanto, alquanto, and altrettanto are used to refer to people, animals, or things:

        • Uno (a) indicates a person, animal, or thing in a generic way.

        L'informazione me l'ha data uno che non conosco.
        The information was given to me by someone I do not know.

        NOTE! Uni (the plural form of the pronoun uno) is used in conjunction with altri in phrases such as:

        Gli uni tacevano, gli altri gridavano.
        Some were silent, others were shouting.

        • Qualcuno indicates a single person or a small amount, both for people as well as for things.

        Qualcuno mi ha telefonato, ma non so chi.
        Someone called me, but I do not know who.

        A qualcuno questo non piacerà affatto.
        Some will not like it at all.

        Ne ho qualcuno di queste riproduzioni.
        I have some of these reproductions.

        NOTE! Essere qualcuno means "to appear" (from anonymity).

        È qualcuno nel suo campo.
        It is someone in your field.