Should I use Each or Every? (English grammar)

My students often wonder – Should I use Each or Every? It’s a great question! I did some research and made this lesson to answer that question. Learn the grammar with lots of natural examples that you can use right away.

Each and Every can sometimes have the same meaning.
Each store in this mall is having a holiday sale.
Every store in this mall is having a holiday sale.
But there is a slight difference in meaning so sometimes we can only use one of them. 
Each talks about things separately, one by one.
Each uniform has the player’s name written on the back.
Every talks about things as a group. Its meaning is similar to all.
I have visited every country in Asia.

Each or Every – English Grammar

I was having a lesson with a private student and he was telling me about the office building where he works.

His question was “Should I use Each or Every?”

There is a bathroom on each floor of this building.
There is a bathroom on every floor of this building.

He wanted to know which sentence was correct:
I said: “Both.”

Both of these sentences mean that you will find a bathroom on all the floors, from the first floor to the top floor. They are saying the same thing but in two different ways.

Each floor talks about the floors separately. The floors by themselves. 

Every floor talks about the floors together. The floors as a group.

Can I use use either EACH or EVERY in all my sentences?

No. You can see that each and every are not exactly the same, sometimes we can only use one of them in our sentence. Let me explain with some more natural examples:

Each

Each talks about things separately, one by one.

“There are 3 balloons, each balloon is a different color.”

This means that if you look at the balloons one by one, you will see that they are different from one another. One balloon is green, one is yellow and one is red.

Each or Every
Each balloon is  different from the others.

EACH can be used as a determiner, pronoun, and adverb. The definition from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries:

used to refer to every one of two or more people or things, when you are thinking about them separately

Every

Every talks about things as a group. Its meaning is similar to all.

“My dream is to visit every country in South America.”

This means that I want to visit ALL the countries in South America. This is talking about the collection of countries in South America.

Each or Every
I want to visit every country in South America.

The definition of the determiner EVERY from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries:

used with singular nouns to refer to all the members of a group of things or people

More examples: 

My friend’s name is Tom. His Grandfather and father are also named Tom. My friend named his son Tom too! Each of the firstborn sons in his family is named Tom.

This example is focusing on the sons individually, one by one, so we use each.


He has a big photo from his cousin’s wedding. 4 generations of his family were there, every Tom was sitting at the same table!

This example is focusing on all the Toms as a group so we use every.


The test has 20 questions. The questions are worth 5 points each.

I read every book in the school library.

1) Each or Every? English grammar

EACH can be used to talk about just 2 things

In a soccer game, each team has 11 players on the field.

In a soccer game, every team has 11 players on the field. [INCORRECT] ✘

A soccer game has just two teams on the field, so we can’t use every in this situation.

2) Each or Every? English grammar

We use EVERY to talk about how often something happens

During rush hour trains arrive at the station every 4 minutes.

During rush hour trains arrive at the station each 4 minutes. [INCORRECT] ✘

I go back to Canada to visit my family about every two years.

I go back to Canada to visit my family about each two years. [INCORRECT] ✘

Both of these examples are talking about how often something happens so we can’t use each in these situations.

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3) Each or Every? English grammar

Each can be used with a noun

Each uniform has the team logo on the back.

Each table has 4 chairs.

Each is sometimes used as a pronoun so it doesn’t need a noun

None of the uniforms were clean. Each was dirty.

*Here the pronoun each means each uniform.

Every can also be used with a noun

Every uniform has the team logo on the back.

Every table has 4 chairs.

*BUT

every is not used as a pronoun.

Every needs to be used with an object. (noun)

None of the uniforms were clean. Every was dirty. [INCORRECT] ✘

For this grammar to be correct we need an object to follow every.

None of the uniforms were clean. Every one was dirty.  [CORRECT] ✔

More confusing English grammar – Should I use HAVE TO or MUST?

Everyone VS. Every one

When everyone is used as one word it means everybody. It is only used for people.

Everyone in my class passed the final exam.

This means everybody passed the exam.

Every one (two words) can be used for things or people. The meaning is like each one.

I studied hard for all my final exams. I passed every one!

This means that I passed each of my tests.

Grammar

The word each is used before singular countable nouns with a verb in its singular form.

each balloon is a different color.

each team has 11 players on the field.

Each table has 4 chairs.

If each comes after a plural subject it will use a plural verb form.

There are 2 teams. They each have 11 players on the field.

*Each can come in between future tense verbs.

We set up two large tables at the front of the hall. They will each have 8 seats for the guests of honor.

Both fighters didn’t make weight for the fight. They will each be fined $1000 by the boxing commission. 

Every will always come before a singular verb form.

Every team in the league has one coach and 3 trainers.

Every referee in the leagues is trained by the city soccer association.

Each of is followed by plural nouns

Each of the firstborn sons is called Tom.

Each or Every
 Each of the firstborn sons is named Tom.

Each of the boxers will be fined $1000 by the boxing commission. 

*This grammar is correct but “both of the boxers” is more natural.

Both of the boxers will be fined $1000 by the boxing commission. 

Conclusion

Remember that each talks about things separately, one by one and every talks about things as a group. You can review this post anytime to refresh the grammar. I often review Japanese blogs for my own language practice!

– Thanks for reading my Each or Every English grammar blog post. I hope it was helpful for you. Before you go be sure to leave a comment below using this new grammar. Have a great day!

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