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each and every
Bruised girl

Christine Vandierendonck from Belgium writes:

Could you please explain to me the difference between each and every?

Roger replies: more questions

Each and every are both determiners used with singular nouns to indicate quantity. Each indicates two or more objects or people and every indicates three or more. Each can also be used as a pronoun, but every cannot be. Study the following:

each ~ both

  • She had clearly been in a fight. She had bruises on each leg and cuts on each arm (OR: on both legs / on both arms, BUT NOT: on every leg / on every arm)
  • My parents have moved to the capital. Each of them works in a bank. (OR They both work…, / They each work…, BUT NOT: Every one of them works…
  • We each had a suitcase and each one weighed over 30 kilos. ( = two people, two suitcases)
  • He was holding a revolver in each hand / in both hands
    ( = two hands, two revolvers)
  • He was holding a revolver with both hands ( = two hands, one revolver)

each ~ individual; every ~ all

We tend to use each if we are thinking about members of a group individually, and every if we are thinking of them in total. Compare the following:

  • We gave each child who came to the party a present. We handed them out one by one.
  • We gave every child who came to the party a present We gave them all a present.
  • I really love Pinter. I've seen every one of his plays at least once. I've seen them all.
  • You suggested I should read Pinter's plays. Well, I'm going to study each one carefully.
  • Every third-year student will be examined orally in June. They will each be given a fifteen minute interview.

every NOT each

With adverbs - almost, nearly, practically, etc, we have to use every to emphasise that we are talking about the group as a whole:

  • Practically every person in the room had dated Samantha at some time or another.
  • Nearly every chocolate had been eaten. There were hardly any left for the boys when they arrived home.
  • This year I have visited practically every country in South-East Asia.

We have to use every to refer to repeated regular events, as in once every, twice every, etc. Study the following:

  • My hearing is getting worse and worse and I have to go to the hospital for a hearing test once every so often - about once every six months.
  • You ask me every single day when Joan will be returning and every single day I tell you that I do not know.
  • How often do you hear from John? ~ Oh, not very often. Every now and again.
  • She was suffering from cramp and in order to finish the tennis match needed to stretch her legs after every other game. (I.e. after the 2nd, 4th, 6th games, etc) BUT: She was suffering from cramp and in order to finish the tennis match needed to stretch her legs after each game.



each NOT every

Remember only each can be used as a pronoun, irrespective of whether we are describing two or more of something or three or more of something. Study the following:

  • No, no. It's not £30 for both of them. They each cost £30. (OR: They cost £30 each.)
  • The inheritance was shared out equally among the six children. Each (of them) received £32,000.
  • I gave them each (OR each of them) a $10 tip when I checked out of the hotel.

If we want to use every in a similar way, indicating three or more of something, we must insert one before of them as every has no pronominal form itself. A lot of word stress is put on one so that in effect it means every single one of them. We can use each one of them in a similar way. Study the following and the earlier examples of this structure:

  • The inheritance was shared out equally among the six children. Every one of them received £32,000.
  • I gave every one of them a $10 tip when I checked out of the hotel.

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