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Indefinite pronouns

David, Khan Academy's Grammar Fellow, covers three nifty features of indefinite pronouns, which are pronouns that are just a little vague, y'know?

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  • blobby green style avatar for user dsandhu.mail
    Kindly help me with Phrases and Kinds of Phrases. I am thoroughly confused in it. I got all phrases and clauses correct when I tried your exercise but I still am not clear with the concept.

    Kindly help, YOUR videos are a great help.
    1. Simmy likes to sing religious songs.
    'to sing religious songs' - is it an adverb phrase? or a noun phrase? Why?
    (8 votes)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user shahnoor sultan
    David do you guys perform online classes cause our schools are closed due to COVID-19. Please tell me if you perform online classes.
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      David Rheinstrom isn't here any more. You can find things he does online in the Khan Academy language curricula for second through 6th graders, but those are much like what he did in the grammar course between 2014 and 2016. If you want personal online tutoring, you'll have to pay for that from a commercial provider. Khan Academy is a nonprofit.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user aniruddhachourasia317
    "but this is one of the very few cases where we ever distinguish between more than one of something and specifically two of something."

    Copied text from video transcript about both, neither and either. Can someone elaborate on the above text? Specifically, how is it distinguishing between more than one of something and two of something?
    (4 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user antninja123456
    What does distinguish mean David?
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Yash  Dixit
    I really didn't understand by "retain the DUAL"
    For example, if i use the sentence, "Neither of you like yogurt" , it may refer to more than 2 people.
    (1 vote)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Imagine this.
      I have two grandparents. I want to serve them breakfast and I'm asking them what to put on the table. As I'm discussing it with them, I say, "neither of you like yogurt." That's because there are two of them.
      HOWEVER
      I have 6 cousins. I want to serve them breakfast and I'm asking them what to put on the table. As I'm discussing it with them, I say, "none of you like yogurt." That's because there are more than two of them. "neither" only works with two. "None" is required for more than two.
      (5 votes)
  • marcimus orange style avatar for user Bella Grusing
    Also What do you mean when you said sometimes words are messy
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user dsandhu.mail
    Jack buys some chocolates for himself.
    Some- indefinite pronoun, himself- reflexive pronoun

    'Some' can be used for singular as well as plural words,
    'Some' also seems to be an adjective here.
    (2 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Fatima T😃👋🏻
    I like both equally!--I like them equally!--I like both of them equally!-- Which one of these are more appropriate?
    (1 vote)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user SofiyaMarkova
    at he says that neither and either refers to only 2 things, but can't neither and either be used for more than 2 things?

    like "you can't have neither apples nor oranges nor bananas" and "you can have either apples or oranges or bananas".
    and you can respond to it with "I would like neither" (don't want apples not oranges nor bananas) and "I can have either" (can have either apples or oranges or bananas)
    (1 vote)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Let's begin with correcting your example sentence, Winston.
      You offered: ""you can't have neither apples nor oranges nor bananas" and "you can have either apples or oranges or bananas".
      and you can respond to it with "I would like neither" "

      I correct it as follows: "You can have neither apples, nor oranges, nor bananas." AND, you can respond with: "I would not like any of them." OR "I want none of those." OR "I can have any of them."

      Now, to deal with your question: Your first suggestion, using 1 "neither" and 2 "nors", looks fine to me.
      But since the response is about three, not two things, I think that the use of words like "some" and "any" might be clearer.
      (3 votes)
  • hopper cool style avatar for user ԃαɱσƚα.ɱαɾƈσԃʂ #JesusIsKing
    What's the difference between "neither" and "either"?
    In what context should we use them?

    Thanks 4 the help!
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hey grammarians, today I'm gonna talk about the idea of the indefinite pronoun, which looks kinda complicated but really just does what it says on the tin. An indefinite pronoun is just that, it's indefinite, undefined, uncertain. These are pronouns that we use when we're not being especially specific. Words like any, anybody, each, everyone, nobody. Any time I need to remember what words fall into this category of indefinite pronouns, I just think of the song Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, originally by Solomon Burke, and then later made famous by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Brothers. So a cool thing about indefinite pronouns, actually there are a couple. Number one, they can be used as both subject or object in a sentence. So if you said to me, "David, do you want pizza?" I could respond, "Yes, please! I'd love some," using it as an object, or equally plausibly I could say, "Yes, please! Some would be great," using it as a subject. Another really cool thing about indefinite pronouns is that the words both, neither, and either retain the dual. They are some of the only words in English that refer to only two things. So these three pronouns are actually a little bit less indefinite than most indefinite pronouns because they refer to a set of two things. So if someone asks me, "Do you like mangoes or cherries more?" I could say, "I like both equally," referring to the cherries and the mangoes at the same time. And this is really strange because, in English, this dual case doesn't really exist anymore except for in very limited amounts because English distinguishes between whether or not there's one of something and more than one of something, but this is one of the very few cases where we ever distinguish between more than one of something and specifically two of something. There are not a whole lot of words in English that refer to that, so I think that's really cool. The third cool thing about indefinite pronouns is that they're usually treated as singular, usually. So words like both, neither, and either are obviously plural but there are some that are a little bit fuzzier. For example, in this sentence, "Nobody was home," we use the word was, the singular form. Even though that nobody could refer to multiple people, or it's really referring to the absence of anyone. Similarly, in this sentence "Everybody knows that I love onions," we use the word knows, just like we'd say he knows, she knows, it knows. So that's the singular form of that verb. Even though the idea of everybody would seem to refer to more than one person. The indefinite pronoun that we use to refer everybody usually conjugates the third person singular form of verbs, usually. Let's get to one of the weirder examples, though, because sometimes the context can carry you along into something that might seem a little quote, unquote "ungrammatical" but really reflects the way that language is used today. And so although you might say "Everyone is looking at me," here's an example from Garner's Modern American Usage, which is one of the several car-sized books I'm using to construct this grammar course. "Everyone was crouched behind furniture to surprise me, "but I already knew they were there." And you can see in the beginning of this sentence, we say "Everyone was," but then in the second part of the sentence, we say "they were," and we're using they to refer to everyone. So how can this be? This doesn't seem grammatical. But as Garner says, "Sometimes meaning rather than grammar governs agreement." Is this grammatical? Yes, in that it makes sense. Does it adhere concretely and in an iron-clad way to these rules that we've established? No, but language is kind of messy in that way. Sometimes the meaning of the sentence, the fact that here everyone refers to multiple people is going to override the rules that are previously established. And that's okay, as long as you're making sense. So relative pronouns are usually singular, unless the context drags them into the realm of plural. So like their name implies, sometimes indefinite pronouns can be a little... indefinite. Alright, here are the three cool things about indefinite pronouns. Number one, they can be used as subjects or objects. Both, neither, and either retain the dual form, which is super weird. And number three, indefinite pronouns are usually treated as singular. Usually. I know that's confusing, but I have faith in you. You can learn anything. David, out.