Is it grammatically sound to refer back to the unspecific pronoun 'someone' via the use of 'that' before it? For example:

I heard someone gave it to him as a present. That someone must have been really rich.

Is the above usage correct? Or does grammar necessitate that it be replaced by 'That person' or something else?

Bonus question, is it grammatical to say 'a certain someone' as a way of alluding to a specific yet unknown person?

  • 1
    Your example is OK. For the "bonus", "a certain someone" would probably be known by the speaker, but not known by the audience (without other context.) An example would be helpful.
    – user3169
    Feb 4, 2018 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's correct. By its ambiguity, "that someone" imbues the subject with an aura of mystery -- in this case a "mysterious benefactor" -- so be aware of that when you use it.

Bonus answer: Yes indeed. Example:

She told us that a certain someone was going to pick her up at seven this evening for a romantic dinner downtown. Does anyone know who her mysterious new flame could be?

I disagree with user3169's statement that the person, "would probably be known by the speaker, but not known by the audience." It's possible for everyone to be in the dark.

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