A pronoun is a part of speech used to replace nouns. An impersonal pronoun is used when a person does not want to indicate a specific noun. For example, if a person wants to use a pronoun for his teacher, he may use the word "he" instead of "teacher" or "Mr. King." If he doesn't want to indicate someone or something in particular, however, he may use impersonal pronouns such as "it," "everyone," "one," or "anyone." An example of impersonal pronoun use may be a case in which a person says, "It's fine" or "It's never easy."
The lack of specification is key when it comes to understanding how impersonal pronouns work. Often, people use pronouns in a manner that defines the person, place, or thing to which it refers. An example of this can be found in the following sentence: He let the door slam as he left the building. In such a case, a particular person let the door slam and the word "he" is used to identify the person, or specific noun.
In contrast, an example of an impersonal pronoun can be found in the following sentence: Anyone could have slammed the door. Since the word "anyone" does not reveal who is being discussed, it is an impersonal pronoun. Other examples of impersonal pronouns include no one, everyone, it, nobody, and anybody, though there are many others as well.
Sometimes people use the word "they" as an impersonal pronoun, but many frown upon this practice. For example, the sentence, "They say change is coming," does not identify who "they" are, and as such, the listener or reader may feel confused about the people who are being discussed. Some people also use this pronoun incorrectly in general by using it to refer to a single person or a business as a whole.
Often, impersonal pronouns also translate into problems when it comes to subject and verb agreement. For example, many people use the word "everyone" with a plural verb form because they think of "everyone" as meaning lots of people. "Everyone," however, really means every one person and takes on a singular verb. In many cases, an individual realizes this mistake when he makes a sentence using "everyone" and the verb "are" and notices how awkward it sounds.
Even the word "you" can be used as an impersonal pronoun. An example of this is when a person makes a general statement, such as "You should never neglect your teeth." In such a case, the speaker usually means anyone or everyone should brush his teeth rather than directing this comment at a particular person.