Each vs. Every

 

Sometimes each and every mean the same thing. Sometimes they mean almost (but not quite) the same thing.

Super helpful—we know.

For instances where you only have two items, use the word each instead of every. If you have a lot of friends, then you might have friendship bracelets covering the entire length of each arm. You are completely ambidextrous, so you can bicycle kick with each leg when you play soccer.

Once you have three things, feel free to use every. For example, you could say, "Why is every topic covered by Shmoop so thrilling?" If you want to emphasize individual items or people, though, stick to using each regardless.

The real lesson here, grammar fans, is that the word each and every are both singular, so they take a singular verb.

Examples

"Even though there were only two of them, each person in the audience reveled in my performance."

Since the speaker performed for a massive crowd of two adoring fans, each is the right choice here.

"My great-aunt has thirty cats, but she really does love each one with all her heart."

Did you know that a group of cats is called a clowder? And a group of kittens (squee!) is called a kindle? We bet that the speaker's great-aunt does. In this sentence, each is the right choice because the speaker wants to emphasize that her great-aunt loves each cat individually.

"I will taste every Baskin Robbins ice cream flavor or die trying!"

It's good to have goals. In this sweet sentence, there are more than two items, so every is the correct word.