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The words each and every in English

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Distinguishing between the words  each and every in English
Each and every (like all and whole) are quantifiers, and as such they are a form of determiner. Each and every have very similar meanings, but there are important differences of meaning and usage.

Meanings and usage of each and every

  • Each refers to a plural number of people or items, but it considers each person or item as an individual or dissimilar unit, it does not consider the group collectively.  Each can also be used as a pronoun.
  • Every also refers to a multiple number of people or items; but it considers these people or items as part of a similar collective group.  If there are just two items or people, every may be replaced by both.
   Sometimes it is important to make this distinction; in other cases, this distinction is not important, and the user can choose between each and every.

Here are some pairs of sentences that clearly illustrate the difference between each and every. In the first sentence of each pair, the speaker is implying dissimilar or individual actions: in the second of each pair, the speaker is expressing similarity of action.

Examples :
Each child was reading a different book  (dissimilar action)
Every child was reading a book. (similar action)
You have to fill in details on each page individually. (dissimilar action)
You have to fill in details on every page. (similar action)
We go on holiday to a different place each summer. (dissimilar action)
We go on holiday to Brighton every summer. (similar action)
He makes a different mistake each time.  (dissimilar action)
He makes the same mistake every single time. (similar action)


Both each and every are singular quantifiers. When they determine the subject of a sentence, they normally therefore require a verb in the singular.
Examples :
Each member of the committee was allowed to speak once.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Each day is different.
Every person I know has seen the film.

Particular uses of each

Each as a quantifier can in fact be used with three different structures.
In addition to the common usage illustrated above (structure 1) , each (but not every) can be used in two other ways
  • Each can be followed by of the and a plural noun  (structure 2)
  • Each can follow the noun that it determines: but when it does so, the noun that it determines is in the plural  (structure 3)
Examples :
Structure 1. Each child was reading a book
Structure 2. Each of the children was reading a book.
Structure 3. The children were each reading a book or The children each were reading a book

Each as a pronoun

Each can also be used as a singular pronoun (structure 4)
Examples :
Structure 4 . I've seen three films about Churchill; each was very interesting.

Each qualifying a pronoun

Each (but not every) can also be used with plural pronouns. When it qualifies a pronoun, it cannot preceed the pronoun, so cannot be used with structure 1; it can only be used in structures 2 or 3.

When followed by of+pronoun, the pronoun is always in the object case (us / you / them)

Examples :
Structure 1. Each them was reading a book   IMPOSSIBLE
Structure 2. Each of them was reading a book.
Structure 3. They were each reading a book or They each were reading a book
More examples
Structure 2.
    Each of us wanted to buy something different.
    Each of them lives in a different city.
   They negotiated a different work contract with each of us
    Each of them had to finish his assignment by Friday.
    The President gave each of us a medal.
    I want each of you to go home now.
Structure 3.
    We were each given a task to do / We each were given a task to do.
    They each live in a different city.
    They each told a different story
    They each had to finish their assignment by Friday.
    The President gave us each a medal

Each one of / Every one of

Both each and every can be followed by one of in the structures
  • {each/every + one of  + determiner + noun}  or
  • {each/every + one of  + pronoun}
They can also be followed by one on its own.
Examples :
Each one of the windows was broken.
   = Each window was broken
Vandals had smashed every one of the windows.
   = Vandals had smashed every window.
Peter's taken every one of my CDs.
   = Peter's taken all my CDs / Peter's taken each of my CDs.
Each one of those computers needs to be upgraded.
   = All those computers need to be upgraded / Each of those computers .....
Each one had been broken.
The vandals had broken every one.
Each one of Monet's paintings is signed at the bottom.

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