EACH & EVERY | English Grammar Lesson
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What’s the difference between each and every? How can you avoid making mistakes? We’ll go over the differences and everything you need to know about these confusing English words in this grammar lesson!
So which one is it then? Each or every? It’s pretty easy to confuse these two words. They look similar, they sound similar but they’re not always used in the same way.
So in this lesson, we’ll go over the subtle and important differences between these two words. We’ll talk about the different situations where you would use one or the other and of course, we’ll practise a little bit together later in the lesson. You know that I love to make my lessons for you very practical so we’ll get to that later on.
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‘Each’ and ‘every’ can both be used with singular nouns.
- every day
- every house
- each person
- each cat
All of these nouns are singular, right? It’s just one person or one thing. So the words ‘each’ and ‘every’ can be used with singular nouns that are part of a group but there is a subtle difference. When we use ‘each’, it emphasises or it puts more attention on the individual. The one person or the one thing.
- Each person who came to the party brought a dish.
More than one person came to the dinner party. In fact, there was a whole group of people who came to the dinner party. But each singular individual person bought a dish or a plate of food to share, right? So he bought a dish, she bought dessert, she bought a salad, he bought some cheese and biscuits, right? So everyone has brought something.
Now let’s compare this to ‘every’. ‘Every’ refers to a group of individual objects or people as one group altogether, right? The attention is on the group as a whole s:
- Everyone who came to the party brought a dish.
So a group of people came to the dinner party and all of these people brought a dish but by using ‘every’, I’m putting emphasis on the group as a whole, right? Everybody here bought a dish.
Now in many situations, just like my example about the dinner party, ‘each’ and ‘every’ can be used interchangeably with just a small difference in meaning, right? You could use either of them and the difference is very subtle.
But let’s look at a few more examples to help make that clear.
- Every business owner is clever.
So I’m putting all business owners together in one group there and I’m making a generalisation about the group – all business owners. And I’m saying that as a group, all of those business owners are clever.
- Each teacher at our school is creative.
So here I’m talking about the individual teachers. Not all teachers in general, not the group together, but each teacher separately at the school is creative.
Everyone or everybody
Before we move on, I want to point out something really important, something you might have been thinking about already. But did you notice in my earlier examples that I wrote ‘everyone’ instead of ‘every one’? So if you want to talk about a group of people as a whole, every person, it’s correct to use ‘every one’ or ‘every body’, right?
Now ‘every one’ written in two words, it actually puts more attention on the individuals in the group and so it becomes a synonym closer to ‘each’, right? Let’s think of an example.
At school, did you have a teacher that you were kind of scared of? Like imagine them saying:
- Every one of you needs to arrive at 7am tomorrow.
Right? The emphasis is on the individual. But if they said:
- Everyone needs to arrive at 7am tomorrow.
Then the emphasis is on the group, right? And it’s a little less scary. It’s a subtle difference but it’s quite powerful in meaning. Notice as well that even though we’re talking about a group of people, ‘everyone’ and ‘everybody’ use a singular verb form because we’re talking about the group as a singular thing, right? Not all of the individuals in it but we’re talking about the group, right?
A nice trick to check if you should be using ‘everyone’ or ‘every one’ is to see if everybody works in that sentence because then ‘everyone’ with one word is also correct. If everybody doesn’t work in the sentence then ‘every one’ with two words is the correct option, right? Let’s look at an example.
- I called everybody to invite them over.
Right we can say:
- I called everyone to invite them over.
- I called everybody of my friends to invite them over.
So let’s do a quick recap before we move on. We use ‘each’ and ‘every’ with singular nouns. ‘Each’ puts more emphasis on the individual within the group and ‘every’ puts our attention on the group as a whole. Got it? Good.
Important things to know
But there’s still some important things that you need to know. So when you’re talking about exactly two things, you can use ‘each’, not when you’re talking about three or four or ten things. Only when you’re talking about two.
- I’ve got an earring in each ear.
I’ve got two ears, so I can use ‘each’ to talk about my ears but I can’t use ‘every’, alright? I have an earring in every ear. it sounds really quite strange like, how many ears do you have?
Earlier I told you that ‘each’ and ‘every’ are usually used with singular nouns but there is a little exception or a rule that we’ve got to talk about here.
‘Every’ can’t be used with plural nouns but ‘each’ can be used with plural nouns with a small change in form. To use ‘each’ with plural nouns, you need to add the word ‘of’.
- Each cat has a red collar.
We can’t say: Each cats have a red collar.
But we can say:
- Each of the cats has a red collar.
Now there’s not much difference in meaning between these two correct sentences but it’s important to notice that we do include the article ‘the’ here. It’s really important, right? You must use it unless you’re using the plural determiners or pronouns like ‘us’ or ‘them’ or ‘these’ or ‘those’, we don’t need to use the article then.
Right so let’s look at a couple of examples of how they’re used.
- Each of us won a prize.
- Each of the kids was given a balloon.
- Did Sarah make each of those?
It’s really important there that we are using our finger to point at what we’re talking about. Another useful thing to keep in mind is that ‘every’ is more commonly used with time expressions.
- She visits her grandma every Thursday.
- Rebecca is on social media so much, she checks her Facebook every ten minutes!
Now actually ‘each’ wouldn’t be wrong in either of these sentences. You could use ‘each’ with many of these time expressions but ‘every’ is just more common and it usually sounds a little more natural, The difference is very subtle.
- Each Monday at 2pm I have a meeting. (That’s fine)
- Every Monday at 2pm I have a meeting.
It’s a little better, it sounds a little more natural.
So right now it’s time to see if you’ve been paying attention through this lesson because we’re about to practise. So I want you to see if you can complete each of the sentences that you see up here with the right word. You have to think about the subtle differences.
- Make sure you put a spoonful of sugar in ______ cup.
So let’s assume that the emphasis is on the individual cup here.
So ‘each’ would be correct because of the singular noun.
- I try to go to the gym ________ Saturday morning.
What about this one? Yep, ‘every’ because Saturday morning is a time expression. What about this one?
- I bought a new bracelet so now I can put one on ________ wrist.
It has to be ‘each’, doesn’t it? Because there are exactly two wrists. Perfect.
- __________ one at the office is upset with the decision to move.
I guess that has to be ‘every’, right? Because we’re talking about the group as a whole. And so when we’re talking about everyone as a group, you need to use ‘every’.
Alright in this last example here, let’s keep our attention on the house as a whole, okay?
- ______ room in the house is painted a bright colour.
Our emphasis and our attention is on the whole house, not the individual rooms inside. So ‘every’ would be perfect but of course, you could use ‘each’ if you were emphasising each of the individual rooms.
Alight I do have one more final question for you. Do you remember at the start of this video when I said that I’m here to answer each and every one of your English questions? So in that sentence, which option is the best option?
It’s a trick question because you could use either okay? But you can also use them together like this. The phrase ‘each and every’ is really common in spoken English and it puts all of the emphasis on the whole group but every single person in the group. So it’s like a combination, right?
And it’s a fixed expression that you’ll see from time to time and you’ll see both of these words together and that’s perfectly acceptable especially when you are trying to emphasise each and every person in the group is important.
So before I say goodbye to each and every one of you, I want you to tell me in the comments if there are any other English words like ‘each’ and ‘every’ that confuse you a little, that you’d like me to explain more because I’ll be making more videos just like this one to help you understand some of the more subtle differences between English words and help you to sound a little more natural as you’re using English.
Links mentioned in the video
Third Conditional Sentences + Examples | English Grammar Lesson
Present Perfect Tense | Simple or Continuous? | FOR & SINCE
How To Ask Great Questions in English