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How to Use Indefinite Pronouns in German

Indefinite pronouns in German serve the purpose of referring to undefined or nonspecific people, things, or quantities, which have not been referred to before. They eliminate the need for specificity and are versatile tools in constructing various sentences. In this blog post, I will explore the various types of indefinite pronouns that exist in the language, clarify their usage, and offer examples.

II. Types of Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are one of nine different types of pronouns in German. Some of them are only used in the singular, others only in the plural, and a few can be used in both singular and plural.

A. Singular Pronouns:





einer, eine, eines







einen, eine, eines,







einem, einer, einem










1. "man" – one, someone, people

The German pronoun "man" is used when generalisations are made. It declines like the indefinite articles and can be used in all four German cases.

In den Nachrichten kann man sich über die Ereignisse des Tages informieren.

(In the news, one can inform oneself about the events of the day)

2. "jemand", "irgendjemand" "irgendwer"– somebody, someone

Jemand, irgendjemand refer to one or more persons in the general sense and decline like the definite articles. In German, "jemand" and "irgendjemand" both refer to "somebody" or "someone," but there's a subtle difference in usage:

  1. Jemand: This term is used to refer to a specific, identifiable person. It's similar to saying "someone" in English. Example: "Ich kenne jemanden, der dir helfen kann." (I know someone who can help you.)

  2. Irgendjemand: This term is more indefinite and implies that the person being referred to is unknown or unspecified. It's akin to saying "just anybody" or "anybody at all" in English. Example: "Irgendjemand hat mein Buch gestohlen." (Somebody stole my book, anybody at all.)

"Irgendwer" is used similarly to "irgendjemand" and "jemand," but it specifically emphasises an unspecified person in a question or statement. It can be translated as "anybody" or "somebody" in English.

Hast du irgendwer das Buch gegeben?" (Did you give the book to anybody?)

3. "niemand" – nobody, no one

Like jemand and irgendjemand, niemand refers to one more persons in a general sense and declines like the definite articles.

Niemand hat geantwortet (Nobody answered)

4. "einer, eine, eines"- one

They refer to a particular person or thing within a group. The plural forms are welcher, welche, welches and their negation are keiner, keine, keines.

Von zehn Leuten hat nur einer die Frage mit "ja" beantwortet. (Out of ten people, only one answered with "yes")

5. "einander" - one another

Einander occurs only in the dative and accusative case.

Sie kennen einander gut (They know each other well)

6. "etwas" – something; "nichts" - anything or nothing

Etwas and nichts are used for things in general.

Hast du mir etwas zu sagen? (Do you something to tell me?)

Nein, ich habe dir nichts zu sagen.

B. Plural Pronouns:

All plural pronouns decline like the definite articles.













1. "alle" – all, everyone

Alle bedanken sich bei dir (All thank you)

2. "viele" – many, a lot

Vielen Leuten ist es in Griechenland im Sommer zu heiß (For many people, Greece is too hot in the summer)

3. "einige" – some, several

Einige Menschen befürchten, dass Trump wiedergewählt werden könnte.

(Some people fear Trump might get reelected)

4. "manche" – some, a few

Manche behaupten, Klimawandel sei eine Erfindung.

(Some claim climate change was made up)

5. "andere" – others, others

Andere wissen, dass Klimawandel uns wirklich bedroht.

(Others know that climate change poses a real threat to us)

C. Singular and Plural Pronouns:


jeder Mann

jede Frau

jedes Kind

alle Männer


jeden Mann

jede Frau

jedes Kind

alle Männer


jedem Mann

jeder Frau

jedem Kind

allen Männern


jedes Mannes

jeder Frau

jedes Kindes

aller Männer

1. "jeder" – each, everyone

Jeder muss helfen (Everyone must help)

2. "irgendein" – any, some

Sag Bescheid, wenn du irgendein Problem hast (Let me know if you have any problem)

3. "irgendwer/irgendwen/irgendwem" - anyone, someone

As above

3. "jemand/jeder/jedes" – anyone, everyone, everything

As above

4. "beide" – both

Wir haben beide zugestimmt (We both agreed)

III. Usage of Indefinite Pronouns:

A. Replacing Nouns: Indefinite pronouns substitute nouns, allowing for a more concise expression. - Example: "Jemand hat mein Buch genommen." (Someone took my book.)

B. Generalising Statements: Indefinite pronouns help generalise statements without specifying particular individuals or things. - Example: "Man sollte Deutsch lernen." (One should learn German.)

C. Quantifying Amounts: Indefinite pronouns quantify amounts without providing exact numbers. - Example: "Viele Menschen mögen Kaffee." (Many people like coffee.)

IV. Special Cases:

A. "alles" vs. "alle": Understanding the distinction between these two indefinite pronouns. - Example: "Alles ist gut." (Everything is good.) vs. "Alle sind glücklich." (Everyone is happy.)

B. "jeder" vs. "alle": Navigating between the singular and plural forms of "each" and "all." - Example: "Jeder Student sollte teilnehmen." (Each student should participate.) vs. "Alle Studenten sollten teilnehmen." (All students should participate.)

Conclusion: Mastering indefinite pronouns in German adds finesse to language proficiency. By incorporating these versatile tools into your linguistic toolkit, you'll enhance your ability to communicate precisely and eloquently. Practice using these pronouns in various contexts to solidify your understanding and elevate your German language skills.


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