At first glance, “each” and “every” are the same. But when we look at more examples, we see they’re really different!
Sometimes they can be interchangeable with each other. The correct use is more about the feeling and less about the structure. For example, “Each of you is special” and “Every one of you is special” are both correct, but the feeling is slightly different for each.
Speaking English is About Meaning
For example “Each option has pros and cons.” is correct.
Also, “Every option has pros and cons.” is correct.
I can even use them together: “Each and every one of you is important to me.” I use them together to emphasize.
Another example, “I’ve responded to each and every email.” for emphasis.
But when we look at more examples, we see they can be really different! It’s important to think about the meaning you want to convey and the situation. Without context, the grammar rules become unclear.
If the rules become overwhelming, check out my post on 3 Steps to Stay Motivated to Speak English.
When to Use Every
Quick Tip 1: “Every” has the idea of a group, sometimes can be interchangeable with “all”
“Every person here agrees” or “everyone agrees” for emphasis on the collective group.
When to Use Each
Quick Tip 2: “Each” is more about the unique individual.
For example, “Each one of you is special.”
Each is a way of seeing the members of a group as individuals, while every is a way of seeing a group as a series of members, lumped together as one.
They can only be used with countable nouns. They are normally used with singular nouns, and are placed before the noun. In many cases, they are interchangeable.
Each can also be used with plural nouns and pronouns but must be followed by ‘of’. Every cannot be used with plural nouns.
Let’s say we’re talking about moving to either Miami, New York or Dallas. I could say:
Each of the cities has pros and cons.
BUT if I was only considering two cities, let’s say Miami or New York, it would also be correct and common to say:
Both of the cities have pros and cons.
Every can express different points in a series, especially with time expressions. Each works in the same way, but is less common.
Every morning I drink coffee.
Go Natural English has new YouTube videos every week.
I call my mother each week.
Each Sunday, I buy most of my food for the week.
Tell me in the comments something you do every day.
Talking About One Thing
When you’re talking about one thing, you can use “every” or “each.”
Every person needs to drink water.
Each person has a favorite beverage.
Each vs. Every When Speaking About Two Things
But the word “every” doesn’t work when you’re talking about two items. In The word each (or both) is used when there are only two objects in question. Consider these examples:
I’m wearing earrings in each ear. (but I think “both” sounds better here)
Or, I’m wearing earrings in each of my ears.
I’m wearing earrings in both (of my) ears.
Each vs. Every When Talking About More Than Two Things
When the quantifier refers to more than two objects, each and every can sometimes be used interchangeably. Look at the sentences below:
I played each song on the album.
I played every song on the album.
Bonus Explanation and Examples with Confusing Compound Nouns
Everyone vs Every one
The pronoun everyone may be replaced by everybody. It is used to refer to all the people in a group.
Written as two words, every one emphasizes each individual who makes up a group, and it means each person.
I would like to thank every one of you who leaves a comment.
I would like to thank everyone.
Every one is the version you want when it’s followed by an “of” phrase.
Everyday vs. Every day
First, everyday is an adjective, so if you are looking to modify a noun, you will want to use everyday. Second, every day is synonymous with the phrase each day. If you can replace every day with the words each day and it still makes sense, then the two-word phrase is probably correct.
Everyday items I use every day include my iphone, my purse, my coffee maker and my sunglasses.
My everyday routine involves meditation, cooking, reading and work.
Everything vs Every thing
It has been said that every thing suggests things as individual items or units, while everything suggests all items as a collective unit. I’ve tried to illustrate this with the following examples.
Every thing on this menu is bad for you.
Everything on this menu is bad for you.
Around 1850, people started to use “everything” more as one word and rarely use “every thing” as two words unless there is a dramatic emphasis on each unique individual item.
Everytime vs Every time
Every time is always two words, never a compound noun.
Here are just a couple common idiomatic phrases that use “each” and “every.”
To each his own
This means each person has a different opinion
I probably wouldn’t say I am wearing earrings in each ear — it sounds very strange to me. I would say “I’m wearing earrings in both ears.” OR “I am wearing DIFFERENT earrings in each ear.”
We don’t say each man has the right to decide his own destiny. We say “every.” In fact, if you google the term “each man….” it will automatically redirect to results for every man.
Every man for himself!
This phrase means that each person is responsible for him or herself.
TAKE THE PRACTICE QUIZ: EACH VS. EVERY