The Difference Between ‘Each’ and ‘Every’

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The words ‘each’ and ‘every’ are commonly used and have comparable meanings. However, there are a number of main differences in their meanings and in the instances when they are used.

A Comparison of ‘Each’ and ‘Every’

The word ‘each’ refers to several items, as a rule three or more, which are also described as individual or unrelated entities. Each does not think about a group jointly.

The word ‘every’ also refers to numerous items; but unlike ‘each,’ it is used to consider these items as part of a related combined group.

However, in some circumstances, ‘each’ and ‘every’ can be used interchangeably.‘Each’ and ‘every’ can often be used in the same sentence, which can make their respective purposes confusing.

For example:

Each woman for herself. or Every woman for herself.

Each subject must be listed. or Every subject must be listed.

The above sentences appear to be correct at first, but you should recognize a more compatible everyday use of the word. The last of the above sentences is more proper to use in everyday sentence construction.

It is important to remember that ‘each’ can always be utilized as a pronoun which is not the case for the word ’every.’

‘Each’ can be used so that you do not need to keep repeating nouns; for example, instead of repeating the noun ‘computer’ in this sentence, we use the pronoun ‘each’:

We took computers to the shop because the computers needed fixing.
We took each computer to the shop because it needed fixing.

Every Each Can Be Confusing

‘Each’ communicates the thought of ‘one by one’. It underlines distinctiveness between people or objects.

‘Every’ is in the middle between each and all. ‘Every’ sees things as both independent entities that are also in a group.

The following sentences compare individual actions and then connections of action.

Examples:

Each child was watching a different show. (individual action)
Every child was watching a show. (connected action)
Fill in your answers on each page individually. (Individual action)
Fill in your answers on every page. (connected action)
She makes a similar mistake each time. (Individual action)
She makes the identical mistake every single time. (connected action)

The special rules

The word ‘each’ can always be followed by the word ‘of’:

The teacher spoke to each of the students.

She gave a gift to each of them.

For more than two items the word ‘each’ will be used.

The word ‘every’ must not be used when describing more than one item.

She was carrying a book in each hand.

The children each ate an ice cream.

The cars each had a parking space.

The word every is always used to say how frequently an event occurs.

There is a bus to the city every day.

The football team plays every week.

The coach leaves every hour.

’Every’ and Not ‘Each’

When using adverbs, such as nearly or almost, you have to use the word ‘every’ to call attention to the fact that you are talking about a group as a whole.

Nearly every person in the room had the chicken.

Almost every sandwich had been eaten.

Both words are said to be very similar because they are both variants (come from) the word ‘all’. When thinking about using the word ‘each’ it is often considered more appropriate to use it when you are discussing things that are human, whilst the word ‘every’ is usually considered more appropriate when you are discussing objects.

Every Each Needs Time and Patience

When you use both of these words in a sentence, where you put them matters most.

The following popular phrase demonstrates this phenomenon:-

‘Each and every’ and never ‘every and each’.

Native speakers naturally use this phrasing, referencing individuals first followed by the reference to the entire group.

It is often acceptable to use these words interchangeably, one in place of the other. If you get confused, most of the time what you are saying should still make sense, but the delicate differences between these words can only be learnt by experience and reading.

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