Negative pronouns in English

Negative pronouns

Negative pronouns in English are no, nobody, no one, nothing, none, neither (none of the two). The negative pronoun po is used as an adjective before a noun:

  • She’s got no friends

Most of the indefinite pronouns correspond to negative pronouns: some — no, none; something — nothing, none; somebody, someone — no­body, no one, none.

Some defining pronouns also correspond to negative pronouns: everything — nothing; all, everybody, every, each — no, none, nobody; both, either — neither

If a negative pronoun is used as a subject or object in a sentence, then the predicate is in the affirmative form:

  • Nobody knows the answer
  • We understood nothing

The pronouns nobody, no one, none (none of all), neither (none of the two), nothing (nothing) are used as a subject or an adjunct:

  • No one could answer
  • Не said nothing
  • None of the pupils remembered the rule
  • Neither of them works well

Use of negative pronouns

The negative pronoun no is used only before a noun as its at­tribute.

  • No dreams were possible in Dufton, where the snow seemed to turn black almost before it hit the ground
  • No Forsyte can stand it for a minute

The negative pronoun none may be applied both to human beings and things.

  • None of us — none of us can hold on for ever!
  • … he took the letters from the gilt wire cage into which they had been thrust through the slit in the door. None from Irene

It can be used as subject or object.

  • In this he would make little fires, and cook the birds he had not shot with his gun, hunting in the coppice and fields, or the fish he did not catch in the pond because there were none (SUBJECT)
  • … besides, it required woods and animals, of which he had none in his nursery except his two cats… (OBJECT)

After the combination ‘none of+ a word in the plural’ it is possible to use a verb both in the singular or in the plural. The plural form is more usual.

  • None of the people I met there were English.

The negative pronouns nobody, no one refer to human beings. They correspond to the indefinite pronouns somebody, someone and to the defining pronouns all, every, each, everybody.

The negative pronoun nobody may be used in the genitive case: nobody’s.

The negative pronouns nobody and no one are mostly used as sub­jects and objects.

  • Nobody seemed to know him well.  (SUBJECT) He remembered the days of his desperate starvation when no one invited him to dinner (SUBJECT)
  • I told you once that I have no one in the world but you (OBJECT)
  • We’d have nobody to fight the war (OBJECT)

The pronoun nobody in the genitive case is used as an attribute.

  • Now Mr. Pullet never rode anything taller than a low pony, and was the least predatory of men, considering fire-arms danger­ous, as apt to go off themselves by nobody’s particular desire.

The pronouns nobody, no one preceded by a preposition are used as prepositional indirect objects.

  • Among all the crowd who came and went here, there and every­where, she cared for nobody

After the pronouns nobody, no one the pronouns they, their, them are often used in Modem English.

  • Nobody phoned, did they?

The negative pronoun nothing refers to things. It is opposite to the indefinite pronoun something and to the defining pronoun

  • And nothing of vital importance had happened after that till the year turned

Nothing may be used as subject, predicative, or object.

  • There is nothing to worry about. (SUBJECT) “Now, look here, Marian, this is nothing but nonsense,” Martin began (PREDICATIVE)
  • … she brought nothing with her but the feeling of adventure (OBJECT)

When preceded by a preposition nothing may be used as a prepo­sitional indirect object:

  • On that train he thought of nothing but Lilly

The negative pronoun neither is opposite to the defining pronouns either, both. Similar to these pronouns, it is used when people are talk­ing about two things.

  • Neither of them answered; but their faces seemed to him as if contemptuous.

In the sentence it may be used as subject, object, and attribute.

  • Neither was wise enough to be sure of the working of the mind of the other (SUBJECT)
  • I like neither of them. (OBJECT)
  • We approved neither plan. (ATTRIBUTE)

The negative pronouns nobody, no one, nothing are singular in mean­ing and when they are used as the subject of the sentence they require a verb in the singular (see the above examples).

The negative pronoun neither when used with the preposition of can combine with a verb in the singular or in the plural.

  • Neither of us is/are married.
  • Neither of the children wants/want to go to bed.

Video – Negative pronouns НІХТО and НІЩО

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