Student Question: When do I use ‘each’ and when do I use ‘every’?

Many times it is ok to use either word and the meaning is the same. These words are adjectives used to describe regularity of something happening or occurrence. For example either word is correct in the following sentences:

  • She goes to the beach every time I visit.
  • She goes to the beach each time I visit.

However, ‘each’ and ‘every’ are not always interchangeable. Sometimes one word is better than the other to use. Here is what to keep in mind when choosing to use ‘each’ or ‘every’:

  • ‘Each’ is used for smaller numbers or when you want the listener or reader to think of the nouns you are talking about separately.  She gave each of the three children a different toy.
  • ‘Each’ can be used with or without a noun, but ‘every’ must be used with a noun.  Each was different from the other.  Every child is different.
  • ‘Each’ is also used with money expressions for how much a particular item costs, such as $1 each, each one for $3, etc.
  • ‘Every’ is used when nouns are thought of collectively as a group or are large in number. It can be used in place of ‘all’.  This is why we have words like everyone and everybody. The children have played with every toy in the house.
  • ‘Every’ is also used with time expressions for how often something happens, such as everyday, every half hour, etc.
  • ‘Every’ is used as well for describing how far apart things are in a series, such as every two feet or every other one, etc.
  • ‘Each and every’ is an expression used for emphasis. Pick up each and every toy!
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