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All or whole ?

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How to use of all and whole

The tricky points of English grammar

Choosing between all and whole

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All and whole are quantifiers, and as such they are a form of determiner. They express totality or completeness.
   Sometimes one can choose either of them; but there are major differences in their usage, and all and whole are not always interchangeable

The differences between all and whole

  • All can refer to singular nouns or pronouns, or to plural nouns or pronouns.
  • Whole is essentially used with nouns in the singular. It is occasionally used as a descriptive adjective with nouns in the plural, and cannot normally be used with pronouns..
Page Index : All with singular nouns All with plural nouns
All and pronouns All as an adverb Uses of whole

All

All implies a complete number or total entity. An incomplete number or entity can be expressed using the negative form of all, which is not all.

1. All with singular nouns.

There are two possible structures.
1.1.  The most common is  {all + determiner + noun}.
Determiners that can be used in this structure are the definite article the, demonstrative adjectives (this, that), possessive adjectives ( my, your, etc.), possessive forms of the noun (Peter's, the man's, etc.).

  When the group {all + determiner + noun} is the subject of a statement, the verb is normally in the singular. However, when the noun in the group is a collective noun referring to multiple people, such as team, committee, school, or family, the verb is normally in the plural (examples 3,4 and 5).

Examples :
  1. All the factory was on fire
  2. All my collection of old books has been stolen.
  3. All the school know that the principal has won the lottery.
      or  All the school knows that the principal has won the lottery.
  4. All my family are coming to dinner tomorrow.
       All my family is coming to dinner tomorrow . sounds improbable
  5. All the President's team are standing for re-election.
  6. All this rubbish must be cleared up at once !
  7. I want you to clear up all this rubbish.
  8. Not all works of art are valuable.  Take care ! This means "Some works of art are not valuable": it does not mean "All works of art are not valuable"

1.2. Less common {all + noun}

This structure is much less common as it can only be used with non-count or uncountable nouns (such as water, oxygen, philosophy). The article must be omitted when the non-count noun is used as an open generalisation. 
Examples :
  1. All water is wet.
  2. I want all alcohol removed from this school.
  3. All sport is good for you.
  4. All poetry is not necessarily good poetry.
  5. Not all poetry is good poetry.

2. All with plural nouns

Plural nouns are by definition count nouns, so the situation is less complicated. As in the singular, there are two structures, with or without a determiner., i.e.  {all + determiner + noun} and{all + noun}
   Whether to use a determiner or not depends on the context, and follows exactly the normal rules for count nouns in the plural. It depends if the noun is being used as an open generalisation (no determiner), examples 1 - 5,  or as a limited generalisation (with determiner), examples 6 - 10.

Examples :
  1. All diamonds are valuable
  2. All fish live in water.
  3. I like all kinds of music.
  4. He gave all sorts of excuses for being late.
  5. All multinational companies have operations in several countries.
  6. All the diamonds in this shop are very valuable.
  7. All the fish that I've eaten have been very tasty.
  8. I like all the music that you play on your violin.
  9. All the excuses he gave were quite improbable.
  10. All the multinational companies in London create lots of jobs.

  

3. All with pronouns

All can either qualify a pronoun, or can be used as an indefinite pronoun.

3.1. All qualifying a pronoun

All can qualify plural pronouns, and can do so using two different structures.
These are very different from the structures used with nouns. They are:  
  {pronoun (+ be) + all } and {all + of + object pronoun} .
Note that all of must be followed by an object pronoun (notably us, them). In this it is used in the same way as each.
Generally speaking, either of the two structures is possible. Compare examples 1-6 with examples 8 - 13.
Examples :
  1. They all like chicken nuggets for dinner.
  2. We're all in this together.
  3. You're all telling lies.
  4. You must all get some sleep before the big match.
  5. Which do you like best ?  / I like them all.  
  6. These new rules concern us all.
  7. I want it all; I want it now  (title of classic 1989 rock single by Queen)
  8. All of them like chicken nuggets for dinner.
  9. All of us are in this together.
  10. All of you are telling lies.
  11. All of you must get some sleep before the big match.
  12. Which do you like best? / I like all of them.
  13. These new rules concern all of us.
Additionally, all can qualify the singular pronoun it, using the same structures
Examples :
  1. It's all rather interesting.
  2. All of it needs to repaired at once.
  3. The project is perfect. I like it all.
  4. I don't just want part of the story, I want all of it.

  

3.2. All as a pronoun

All is sometimes used by itself, as an indefinite pronoun, meaning everything or everyone. This mostly occurs as the subject of a sentence, though very occasionally after a preposition.
Examples :
  1. All's well that Ends Well   (title of a play by Shakespeare)
  2. All you need is love  (title of classic hit single by the Beatles).
  3. With love from all.

5. All as an adverb

Occasionally, all is used as an adverb, qualifying an adjective, with the meaning of completely (examples 1 & 2) , or qualifying a preposition such as through or over (examples 3 - 5).
Examples :
  1. She was all sad about having to go home.
  2. This is an all European research project.
  3. We drove all through the night.
  4. Help, there are horrible insects all over the place.
  5. The success of this company is all down to good management.

  

Whole - quantifier or adjective or noun

Whole as a quantifier

Whole as a quantifier can  only be used with singular nouns, either singular count nouns or singular non-count nouns. It is used exactly like a normal adjective, in the structures:
     {determiner + whole + noun} or  {determiner + whole + adjective + noun} .

Note: Whole and place names:

These structures are not used with place names that do not already contain an article, notably the names of countries. One can say the whole United States, but one  cannot say the whole England,: one can say the whole of England. See whole as a noun, below.
Whole has a similar  meaning to all, though the structures are different.  
   However, by using the whole one stresses the unity of an entity, not its multiple components. Thus when the subject of a sentence is a collective noun implying multiple people , such as team, committee, school, or family, qualified by whole, the verb is more normally, though not always, in the singular (contrast this with all, above).
Examples :
  1. You will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  2. This whole story has been made up.
  3. We'll have to repaint the whole room.
  4. There was a whole complicated dossier to fill in.
  5. The whole English team was welcomed at Buckingham Palace.
  6. The whole committee was in favour of the motion.
  7. Our whole family like to meet up once each year.

Whole as an adjective

Occasionally, whole functions as a descriptive adjective, a synonym of entire or complete. In this function, it can qualify plural nouns
Examples :
  1. Whole collections of Roman bronzes are extremely rare.
  2. The tsunami washed away whole sections of the coastline.
  3. We only sell whole computers, not the separate components. 
  4. Whole oranges are used to make the best marmelade.

Whole as a noun

Finally, whole is also sometimes as a noun, notably with the indefinite article, a whole, meaning a complete unit, or in the e xpression the whole of (notably with place names) and in the expression "on the whole", meaning generally speaking. In one expression only, it can be used with a pronoun: the whole of it
Examples :
  1. Two halves make a whole.
  2. The whole of France was waiting for the news.
  3. The whole of the USA  is covered by snow.
  4. Here are statistics for the whole of Britain.
  5. The whole of our history has been marked by political rivalry.
  6. The whole of the city was without electricity.
  7. On the whole (As a whole), I think the exhibition is rather good..
  8. I thought  he'd eat some of the cake, but not the whole of it !

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