Ultimate Guide to Spanish Indefinite Pronouns – For People & Things

Spanish is a beautiful language. It’s not too difficult to admit it 🙂

But it can also be challenging to learn all of its components – components like eg. the Spanish indefinite pronouns.

These powerful little words can do a lot of things: replace nouns, making your speech and writing more concise and natural. Spanish Gitana made a short, yet powerful lesson on indefinite pronouns in Spanish:

And in this ultimate guide we will uncover every aspect of Spanish indefinite pronouns.

1. What are Spanish indefinite pronouns?

Effortless Answers

Indefinite pronouns in Spanish are words that substitute nouns without specifying a particular person or thing. They refer to something unspecified, non-specific, or general.

Unlike Spanish definite articles like “el” or “la,” which refer to specific nouns, indefinite pronouns leave the noun unspecified.

They are often used when the speaker or writer doesn’t need to or doesn’t want to identify the noun explicitly. So, instead of saying “¿Tienes los libros?” (Do you have the books?), you could say “¿Tienes algunos?” (Do you have some?), using the indefinite pronoun “algunos” to talk about an unspecified number of books.

Honestly, it’s a bit more complex than this, but these are the basics. Let’s go deeper to understand them!

2. Types of indefinite pronouns in Spanish

Spanish indefinite pronouns can be categorized based on whether they can be used for people, things, or both.

Here are the main types:

  1. Indefinite pronouns that can be used both for people and things:
  • algo (something)
  • nada (nothing)
  • algo más (something else)
  • todo (everything)
  • cualquiera (anyone/anything)
  1. Indefinite pronouns that can be used only for people:
  • alguien (someone)
  • nadie (no one)
  • quienquiera (whoever)
  • uno (one, as in “one person”)
  1. Indefinite pronouns that can be used only for things:
  • ninguno (none, not any)
  • varios (several)
  • otro (another, other)
  • unos/unas (some)

It’s useful to understand these categories because you use them based on what you’re referring to.

Using the wrong pronoun can change the meaning of your Spanish sentence or make it grammatically incorrect – the latter isn’t that big of an issue, but still, it’s good to avoid misunderstandings.

3. Use indefinite pronouns for people & things

The following table lists the Spanish indefinite pronouns that can be used for both people and things:

Spanish Indefinite PronounEnglish Translation
algosomething
nadanothing
algo mássomething else
todoeverything
cualquieraanyone/anything

These indefinite pronouns are versatile. You can use them in different contexts if you’re referring to beverages, books or people.

Here’s a short conversation where these pronouns are used for both people and things:

Ana: “¿Hay algo que necesites?” (Is there something you need?)
Bianca: “No, nada en particular.” (No, nothing in particular.)
Ana: “Bueno, si necesitas algo más, avísame.” (Well, if you need something else, let me know.)
Bianca: “Gracias, lo haré. Por cierto, ¿has visto a cualquiera de mis amigos?” (Thanks, I will. By the way, have you seen any of my friends?)
Ana: “No, no he visto a nadie hoy.” (No, I haven’t seen anyone today.)

As you can see, these Spanish indefinite pronouns can refer to both people (cualquiera referring to friends) and things (algo and nada referring to objects or concepts).

4. Learn Spanish indefinite pronouns ONLY for people

The next table lists the Spanish indefinite pronouns that can be used only for people:

Spanish Indefinite PronounEnglish Translation
alguiensomeone
nadieno one
quienquierawhoever
unoone (person)

These indefinite pronouns are specifically used to refer to people or groups of people.

They cannot be used to refer to things or objects. For example, you would never say “Hay alguien en la mesa” (There is someone on the table) because “alguien” refers to a person, not an object.

Now let’s read this conversation:

Anastasia: “¿Has visto a alguien en la oficina?” (Have you seen anyone in the office?)
Jorque: “No, no he visto a nadie.” (No, I haven’t seen anyone.)
Anastasia: “Bueno, quienquiera que sea, espero que llegue pronto.” (Well, whoever it is, I hope they arrive soon.)
Jorque: “Sí, necesitamos a uno más para terminar el proyecto.” (Yes, we need one more person to finish the project.)

The pronouns here are specifically used to refer to people. It’s made clear that the subject being discussed is a person, or a group of people.

5. Use Spanish indefinite pronouns ONLY for things

The following table is all about the Spanish indefinite pronouns that are used only for things:

Spanish Indefinite PronounEnglish Translation
ningunonone, not any
variosseveral
otroanother, other
unos/unassome

These indefinite pronouns are specifically used to refer to things or objects, not people. Using them to refer to people would be grammatically incorrect and, although natives would understand, could lead to confusion or misunderstanding.

In a real-life scenario, it would look like this:

Ainoa: “¿Tienes algunos libros para prestarme?” (Do you have some books to lend me?)
Ariadna: “Sí, tengo varios. ¿Quieres otro libro además de los que ya tienes?” (Yes, I have several. Do you want another book besides the ones you already have?)
Ainoa: “No, gracias. No necesito ninguno más por ahora.” (No, thanks. I don’t need any more for now.)

In this conversation, the pronouns varios, otro, and ninguno are used to refer to books, which are things or objects, not people.

6. Practice Spanish indefinite pronouns

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate Spanish indefinite pronoun:

This is just part of the exercise we have for this grammar topic with chunks. If you want to practice more, you should click this button below!

7. Alguien, nada, nadie, otro – learn indefinite pronouns with Conversation Based Chunking

Immersing yourself in Spanish audio materials or Spanish TV shows on Netflix is an excellent way to learn indefinite pronouns.

learn spanish indefinite pronouns with effortless conversations

Listen for common chunks or phrases that incorporate these pronouns, such as “¿Tienes algo?” (Do you have something?) or “No conozco a nadie” (I don’t know anyone).

As you repeatedly run into these expressions in context, your ear will become used to how indefinite pronouns are naturally used.

Actively focusing on these high-frequency chunks will help you recognize patterns, and using the Conversation Based Chunking method, you’ll use them yourself in no time!

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