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Difference Between Each and Every - Detailed Explanation with Examples

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each vs every

‘Each’ and ‘every’ are two similar words with almost identical meanings and very similar uses.  This makes the difference in meanings of these words unclear and stumps a lot of English native speakers when they try to explain the differences. 

 

This is because ‘each’ and ‘every’ appear to be the same when we first look at them.  Both words are used to talk about individuals in a group; which makes understanding when to use ‘each’ and when to use ‘every’ challenging.  

 

We can usually change one for the other without changing the meaning of the sentence, but there are times when we must use one or the other.  

 

Below is an example of when using ‘each’ or ‘every’ doesn’t affect the meaning of the sentences:

 

“Each boy grows up to be a man” and “Every boy grows up to be a man”.

 

These sentences have the same meaning, but ‘each’ focuses on the individual boys while ‘every’ focuses on the group of individual boys as a whole.  The sentences have a different connotation or feeling, about them, but they have the same meaning.  

 

Each

Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of ‘each.’  

 

‘Each’ means the unique individual in a group of two or more things or people.  The meaning focuses on the individual ‘one thing’ that is part of a group.  

 

 

The meaning of ‘each boy’ is the individual boy who is regarded and identified separately but speaks of all the boys in the group.  All the boys in the group grow up to be men because ‘each’ individual boy in the group grows up to be a man.

Every

The meaning of ‘every’ is very similar, but it refers to all the individuals or things in a group as a whole.  

 

We can sometimes change ‘every’ with ‘all’ and the sentence will still hold the same meaning.  ‘Every’ means all the individuals in a group of three or more things or people.  

 

Essentially, ’each’ and ‘every’ have the same meaning but ‘every’ describes all the individuals together as a group and ‘each’ describes the individuals as separate things or people in a group.

Difference Between Each and ‘Every

We’ve looked at two separate sentences with ‘each boy’ and ‘every boy’ where the meanings are essentially exactly the same, however, ‘each’ and ‘every’ have their differences.  

 

‘Each’ can describe two or more things or people in a pair or group, whereas ‘every’ can only be used when the group contains three or more things or people.  We cannot use ‘every’ when there are only two things in a group.

 

Correct: She wears an earring in each ear.

Incorrect: She wears an earring in every ear.

 

Another key difference between these words is that ‘each’ can be used with plural nouns, but ‘every’ can never be used with plural nouns.

 

When we use ‘each’ with plural nouns, we must add ‘of the’ and say ‘each of the…’:

 

Correct: “Each of the plants needs sunlight.”

Incorrect: “Every of the plants needs sunlight.”  

 

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Use of Each and Every

We use ‘each’ and ‘every’ when we want to refer to a group and talk about all the individuals in a group either as separate individuals (each) or all together as a whole group of individuals (every).  

 

‘Each’ and ‘every’ are used to talk about the qualities, abilities, or other attributes that everyone or everything in the group has.  They both include all the people or things in a group but look at them as singular individuals that are part of a group.    

 

Each and Every in a Sentence

Correct: Each person must submit their homework on time.

Correct: Every person must submit their homework on time.

 

Correct: I got a gift for each parent.

Incorrect: I got a gift for every parent (assuming the person only has two parents).

 

‘Each’ can be used with plural nouns, but it must be followed by ‘of the’

 

Correct: Each of the children saw the show.

Correct: Each child saw the show.

Correct: Every child saw the show.

Incorrect: Every of the children saw the show (we CANNOT use ‘every’ with plural nouns)

Examples For Each

Each person will receive a gift tomorrow.

They release a new episode each week.  

He has mosquito bites all over each leg.

Each student must take the test.

 

We can also change ‘each’ with ‘both’ when there are only two:

 

He has dirtied each foot.

He has dirtied both feet.

Examples For Every

Every employee works hard.

He’s ruined every pair of trousers that he’s owned!

He plays a new song every day.

They’ve finished every project that we assigned to them.

 

We usually use ‘every’ when we talk about a repeated action that happens often.  ‘Each’ is acceptable too, but ‘every’ is more common.

 

I eat breakfast every morning.

I eat breakfast each morning.

I go running every day.

I go running each day.

 

Each and Every Singular or Plural

In English grammar, we use the third-person singular form of the verb with ‘each’ and ‘every.’  It is important to remember that ‘each’ and ‘every’ refer to more than one person or thing, but these words focus on the individual as part of the group, so these words are singular.

 

Examples:

Correct: Each boy is getting pizza for dinner.

Incorrect: Each boy are getting pizza for dinner.

 

Correct: Each of the patients is being treated this afternoon.

Incorrect: Each of the patients are being treated this afternoon. 

 

Correct: Every person loves having fun.

Incorrect: Every person love having fun.

 

The only exception to this rule is if ‘each’ is used AFTER a plural subject pronoun.

 

Example:

Correct: The students each finish their work.

Incorrect: The students each finishes their work.

 

Remember, in English language ‘every’ can NEVER be used with plural nouns.

 

Mistakes that English learners most often make when using the words each and every

Every Time vs Each Time 

‘Every time’ and ‘each time’ can both be used to talk about all the individual times we do something.  

 

They are interchangeable, but ‘every time’ is more common because ‘every time’ is inclusive of all times an action is repeated.  We usually use ‘every’ with repeated actions on a timeline.  

 

Be careful not to use ‘everytime.’. Unlike other compound words like ‘everywhere,’ ‘everyone’ and ‘everything,’ ‘every time’ must always be written separately.

 

Example:

I buy milk every time I go to the shops.

I buy milk each time I go to the shops.

 

Every time’ emphasizes that I always buy milk at the shops.

Each time’ emphasizes the individual times I go to the shops.  

 

‘Each time’ is more commonly used when complaining or in a negative context.

 

Example:

I buy milk each time I go to the shops and yet we never have milk!

 

Every Year or Each Year 

To follow on from the previous example, ‘every year’ and ‘each year’ are interchangeable but hold a slightly different meaning or focus.  ‘Every year’ is more common because we use ‘every’ to talk about a repeated event, especially one with a time reference.

 

Example:

We go on holiday every year.

We go on holiday each year.

 

‘Every year’ means always and without exception.

‘Each year’ emphasizes the individual years.


Each Do or Each Does

‘Each’ and ‘every’ are singular and must take the third-person singular ‘does.’

 

Examples:

Does each person need to submit their homework by tomorrow?

Does every boy grow up to be a man?

 

Unless ‘each’ comes AFTER the subject:

 

Example:

Do the students each need to finish their work?

Do the plants each need to be watered every day?

 

We can never use ‘do’ with ‘every.’

 

Each Thing or Each Things 

We can use plural nouns with ‘each,’ however, ‘each’ needs to be followed by ‘of the’ before the plural noun.

 

Example:

Each of the things needs to be fixed.

Each thing needs to be fixed.

 

Note: We still use the singular form of the verb after ‘each of the things’ because the subject is singular.

Each and Everyone of Us Has or Have

We use the singular ‘has’ with ‘each of us’ and ‘everyone of us’ because the subject of the sentence is singular.  The subjects of the sentences are ‘each of us’ and ‘everyone of us’ and they follow the same rules as third-person singular subjects.

 

Example:

Each of us has to listen closely to the rules.

Everyone of us has a red bag.

Each and Everyone of You Has or Have

The same rule applies for ‘each of you’ and ‘everyone of you.’  While ‘you’ as a subject on its own takes ‘have,’ ‘each of you’ and ‘everyone of you’ are singular subjects and take ‘has.’

 

Example:

Each of you has a test tomorrow.

Everyone of you has to study hard.

 

If you want to practice what you’ve learned in this article, go to this English proficiency test and earn a certificate!

 

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