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What is the difference between the following two sentences?

Each apple is red.

Every apple is red.

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I was relieved this one wasn't about "each and every"... :D –  user730 Dec 12 '10 at 14:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Strictly speaking, the two sentences mean the same thing. However, the sentence "Each apple is red" is slightly unusual, and the more natural way to express this would be "Every apple is red", or "All apples are red."

The reason is that the word each is generally used in situations where we consider the apples individually or sequentially, whereas every and all are used for generalizations. So we might say:

We spray-painted each apple red.

Here each is appropriate because every apple was painted individually. However, most people wouldn't say the following:

[?] Each apple turned red by October.

This isn't technically wrong, but it sounds unnatural. Much more usual would be to say one of the following:

Every apple turned red by October.

All the apples turned red by October.

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Perhaps this question has already been answered, but here's my two cents:

Each is used for the individual person or item, and the focus is on the individual, not the group.

Every is also used for the individual, although the focus is shifted to the group. Consider the following quote from Dictionary.com:

Each, every are alike in having a distributive meaning. Of two or more members composing an aggregate, each directs attention to the separate members in turn: Each child (of those considered and enumerated) received a large apple. Every emphasizes inclusiveness or universality: Every child (of all in existence) likes to play.

However, a couple of years ago I came across a somewhat novel usage, or perhaps archaic usage, of each: the poetic each. Simply put, this is a full synonym or every, as in the following excerpt:

The Holy Spirit is working in your heart;
This is the day to give the Lord each part.

— "The Lord is Calling" by Greg and Heather Murray

The sense of each in the quote above is obvious. It does not mean to give the Lord one piece of your heart at a time; it means to surrender your entire heart. Now, technically, this usage is not usually considered; it may even be considered incorrect by textbook English standards. I simply want to point out its existence.

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Each is used for single person. Every is used for a group.

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protected by Will Hunting Nov 17 '12 at 6:21

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