Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Each and Every

balls-pdEach vs Every

Let us examine the differences between these two seemingly similar words by beginning with examples: “Each and every one of us, owes duties towards the nation in which we reside’. Here, both the words have been used, but it is very clear that every needs another word (which could be anything – ‘one’, ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘child’, ‘thing’, etc) to complete its meaning.

‘Each’ refers to one, and ‘every’ refers to all. Both are usually used together in the phrase ‘each and every’ to connote the impact.

‘Each’ and ‘every’ can also be used in the exact same sentence, but there are more suitable uses for the former, and sometimes it is more suitable to use the latter. For example: “Each man for himself’, ‘Every man for himself’, ‘Each item should be listed’, ‘Every item should be listed’. All four of the previous sentences seem correct at first, but you will realize that each is more human, and every is more for ‘things’. Thus, the first and the last of the above 4 sentences are more appropriate than the second and the third ones.

‘Every time’ would be a better choice than ‘each time’. ‘Every human’ isn’t as appropriate as ‘each human’. We don’t realize this subconsciously when we involuntarily select the appropriate word, but it happens with all who are proficient in English. Those who are still novices in the language will find it confusing, and that’s how this article will help them.

Let us examine more examples: “Each of us should look after everyone else’. Here, even though both ‘each’ and ‘every’ refer to humans, it is prudent to use ‘each’ in the first instance, so that ‘every’ can be freely used in the latter part of the sentence. If every was used twice, it would make the sentence sound weird.

Finally, one more example: ‘Everyone was flying kites on the kite-flying festival day, and each and every kite had its own unique characteristics, colors and designs.”

To summarize:

1) Both words are extremely similar, and none means anything other than what they mean, i.e. both are the same variants of ‘all’.

2) Yet, each is used more for single items, and every is used collectively.

3) Each is more human, and every is more appropriate for ‘things’.

4) Their uses matter more when both are used in the same sentence.

5) They are both part of the popular phrase ‘each and every’, which is never written as ‘every and each’, because of the sensibilities inherent in each of us to use individual references first, followed by group references.

6) This pair of confusing English words is very similar, and it won’t hurt to use one in place of the other most of the time. There are very fine differences between the two which can only be learnt through experience, usage and reading more literature. After all, rules of language are not mandated by organizations, they are living breathing organisms, that evolve with their environment and their uses; they’re nothing but what the majority of the greats have done, so if you read all of the greats, you will know all the right rules.


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6 Comments

  1. It is a gr8 website…..i wasn’t aware of many differences in most of the words defined in this website. Thanx a lot. :-) ……It would be gr8 if u can add more of something like this in the language section.

  2. Thanks, this website is pretty much helpful.

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  4. Thanks for this article manisha. You cleared all my confusions abou each and every. Thanks alot.

  5. Interesting article, but I am not convinced by this suggestion that “each” refers to people while “every” refers to things. Presumably this means I am not “proficient in English”. I don’t think this is a US/British English issue.

    Every refers to a group as a whole, while each focuses on the individual members of a group. Each can refer to two or more people or things, but every has to refer to a group of three or more (a bit like “several”).

    Every good guitarist practises every day. (Would anyone say “each” in this sentence?)
    Each guitarist has his own way of practising.

  6. What about “everyone” because that is about is about humans… Does the logic break down here?

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