Pronoun Indefinite


An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that refers to a person(s) or thing(s) in general but not to any specific person or thing in particular. In English, they are usually translated as “whoever” (in reference to persons) or “whatever” (when referring to things).


Biblical Hebrew contains two indefinite pronouns, the pronoun מִי (in reference to persons) and the pronoun מָה (in reference to things). These pronouns can also as interrogative pronoun, especially when they appear at the beginning of a clause/sentence. However, this is not a universal rule; the specific use of these pronouns must always be determined from the context. Indefinite pronouns function in a sentence almost exactly like a relative pronoun (see examples below).


Indefinite pronouns do not change their form based on number, gender, or person. However, the vowels can change depending on the vocalization of the word immediately following the pronoun.


Personal indefinite pronoun (מִי)

Example: JDG 7:3




Whoever is afraid

Example: EXO 32:26

מִ֥י לַיהוָ֖ה אֵלָ֑י

mi layhwah ‘elay

Who to-Yahweh to-me.

Whoever is on Yahweh’s side, come to me

Example: GEN 21:26

לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתִּי מִ֥י עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה

lo yada’ti mi ‘asah ‘eth-haddavar hazzeh

Not I-know who did [dir.obj]_the-thing the-this.

I do not know who has done this thing.

Example: EXO 32:33

מִ֚י אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָֽטָא־לִ֔י

mi ‘asher hata-li

Who which sinned_to-me

Whoever has sinned against me

Example: JDG 10:18

מִ֣י הָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָחֵ֔ל לְהִלָּחֵ֖ם בִּבְנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן

mi ha’ish ‘asher yahel lehillahem bivne ‘ammon

Who the-man which begins to-fight with-sons-of Ammon?

Who is the man who will begin to fight the Ammonites?

Impersonal indefinite pronoun (מָה)

Example: 1SA 20:4

מַה־תֹּאמַ֥ר נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לָּֽךְ

mah-ttomar nafshekha we’e’eseh-llakh

What_she-says your-soul and-I-will-do_for-you.

Whatever you say, I will do for you.

Example: NUM 23:3

מַה־יַּרְאֵ֖נִי וְהִגַּ֣דְתִּי לָ֑ךְ

mah-yyar’eni wehiggadti lakh

What_he-shows-me and-I-will-tell to-you.

Whatever he shows me I will tell you.

Example: ECC 3:15

מַה־שֶּֽׁהָיָה֙ כְּבָ֣ר ה֔וּא

mah-shehayah kevar hu

What_which-exists already it

Whatever exists has already existed