Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

All or every?

from English Grammar Today

All and every are determiners.

We use both all and every to refer to the total number of something. All refers to a complete group. Every refers to each member of a complete group:

The questionnaire was sent to all employees.

The questionnaire was sent to every employee.

We can use every to focus on each individual member.

Compare

All passengers must turn off their mobile phones.

refers to the whole group

Every passenger must turn off their mobile phone.

(We use their instead of his or her to refer back to a singular noun (passenger) because we are referring to both male and female passengers.)

focuses on each individual member of the whole group

We can use all, but not every, on its own without a noun. We use everyone/everybody/everything instead:

The meeting is at Oriel Hall. It begins at 8 pm and all are welcome.

Not: … every is welcome

Everyone is welcome to join the village social club.

All and every + nouns

The meaning of all and every is very similar but we use them in different ways. We use all with plural and uncountable nouns and every with singular nouns:

All donations will be sent to the earthquake relief fund.

All equipment must be returned by the end of June. (uncountable)

Every donation is appreciated.

We can use all and all of before determiners, but we don’t use every before determiners:

I invited all (of) my friends.

Not: … every my friends

All (of) the

We can use all and all of before articles (the, a/an), demonstratives (this, that) and possessives (our, his) but we can’t use every before them:

[talking about a library]

It has got all (of) the books that have ever been published.

Not: It has got every the book or It has got the every book

She’s gone to all (of) their concerts this year. She hasn’t missed one.

Not: … every their concerts

All day, every day

We use all day, all week, all month to mean ‘one entire day/week/month’:

We spent all day at the beach yesterday.

Every day (week/month) focuses on each individual day (week/month):

We spent every day at the beach in the holidays.

Not: We spent all days at the beach

Fuel prices are rising every week.

Not: Fuel prices are rising all weeks.

All or every: typical errors

  • We don’t use every before determiners:

He sold all (of) his books.

Not: … every his books.

  • We don’t use every with uncountable nouns:

All (the) information can be saved in the computer memory.

Not: Every information can be saved

  • We don’t use every with plural nouns:

We should organise a trip for all students.

Not: … for every students

  • We don’t use every on its own without a noun; we use everyone, everybody or everything instead:

He suggested cancelling the trip and everyone agreed.

Not: … every agreed

(“All or every ?” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Word of the Day

white Christmas

a Christmas when it snows

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More