Some weeks ago, I talked about invariable indefinite adjectives in Italian. Today, I’d like to talk about Italian indefinites that can be used only as pronouns.
Indefinite pronouns are words that are used to refer to people or things in a non-specific way, without saying who or what they are. Some examples in English are someone, anyone, few, something, etc.
If I say “someone left a package for me”, for example, I know that the word someone refers to a person but I don’t know to whom it’s referring exactly.
In Italian we have seven indefinites that can be used only as pronouns: chiunque, niente, nulla, ognuno, qualcosa, qualcuno and uno.
Chiunque is invariable. It is used to refer to any person, and it’s used when it’s not important to say exactly who did the action.
Chiunque può imparare una lingua straniera
Anyone can learn a foreign language
Niente and nulla are invariable. They are synonyms and mean nothing.
Niente/nulla mi può sorprendere ormai
Nothing can surprise me anymore
Ognuno can only be used in its singular form and it can change according to the gender, so it becomes ognuna in the feminine. Ognuno means each person.
Ognuno dovrebbe rispettare le regole
Each one of us should respect rules
Qualcosa is invariable. It is used to mean a particular thing when you don’t know its name or you don’t know exactly what it is.
C’è qualcosa di strano in questa storia
There’s something weird in this story
Qualcuno can only be used in its singular form and it can change according to the gender, so it becomes qualcuna in the feminine. Qualcuno is used to indicate a person when you don’t know or don’t want to specify who the person is.
Qualcuno ha trovato un portafoglio?
Did someone find a wallet?
Uno is a synonym of qualcuno. However, uno is used only in informal Italian, while qualcuno is used in standard and in formal Italian.
Like qualcuno, uno can only be used in its singular form and it changes according to the gender. So, it becomes una in the feminine.
Ieri ho visto uno che somigliava molto a tuo fratello
Yesterday I saw someone who really looked very much like your brother
Did this article about Italian indefinite pronouns help you improve your Italian a little bit? If so, don’t forget to share it.
Original image by Tumisu