You are not the only one who has mistaken the use of the words “each” and “every”. These words in English grammar seem quite simple and easy to use, but even proficient writers have fallen victim to such mistakes very often.
Both the words “each” and “every” are quantifiers that are used in a sentence generally to indicate or refer to a singular something. While their definitions are similar, there lies a clear difference between them concerning their usage and meaning.
Let us discuss them in detail to get rid of the confusion.
Each vs Every – Difference
Use of Each
“Each” can be used in several ways. But generally, when we use the word “each” in a sentence, it refers to a unique individual in a particular group of people. In simple language, “each” refers to an individual thing or a person in a particular plural group.
Let us understand with an example;
- Look at the masterpieces of each artist.
Here, we see, “each artist” refers to the individual artist. It talks about the individual artist separately from the others but speaks about all the artists present in the group. Some other examples are;
- Each teacher is performing in the function.
- Each of you is invited.
“Each” can also be used as pronouns. It is applicable with both singular and plural pronouns. For example;
- The dogs bit each other.
- Natasha and Arnold gave each other easter gifts.
Here, “each” becomes singular pronouns indicating all the individuals separately. In short, it refers to the individuals within the group.
- We each stayed at the hotel last night.
- They were each trying to read the newspaper.
Here, “each” used with plural nouns does not become the pronoun itself. But instead, it qualifies them.
Use of Every
When we use the word “every” in a sentence, we indicate the collective group, unlike “each” which describes the individual within a plural group. In simpler words, “every” indicates the individuals in a plural group as a whole. It means all the members in a group of three or more.
Let us look at an example;
- Every teacher is performing in the same group.
Here, the word “every” refers to all the teachers that are in a group together and not separately.
“Every” is different from “each” because “every” is not applicable with pronouns. However, “every” is widely and commonly used with words like practically, nearly, almost, etc. Here, “each” cannot be used because the usage of such words tries to indicate the entire group and not the individuals within it. Therefore, “every” is the right choice here.
- Almost every teacher is performing for us.
- Nearly every phone I use is broken.
- She does it almost every time.
We see “every” looks more grammatically correct than “each“. Sometimes, “every” can also be interchanged with “all”, and it would still stand correct.
Remember the difference between Each and Every
“Each” is used to indicate individuals separately in a plural group that consists of two or more people, while “every” is used to indicate individuals as a whole in a plural group that consists of three or more people.
“Each” can be used with both singular and plural nouns, while “every” is not applicable with plural nouns.
Thus, we learned that both the terms have quite similar meanings, but they are used differently in different sentences.