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What's the difference between entire and all? For example, if I say

  1. all the files in the project.
  2. entire files in the project.

Which one is correct? Does entire convey a sense of continuity and hence is not appropriate here?

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You might be interested in this proposal for English Language Learners. –  Matt Эллен Jul 9 '12 at 9:51
Have you checked the dictionary? –  Noah Jul 9 '12 at 9:53
@Noah yeah but I couldnt find if it diffrentiates in usage of entire and all. –  bubble Jul 9 '12 at 11:20
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closed as general reference by Matt Эллен, Bravo, Barrie England, jwpat7, kiamlaluno Jul 11 '12 at 14:13

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

All the implies every one of many, while entire implies all of one.

In your examples, #2 sounds off.

I might say:

This wiped out all the files for the project.

if several files got trashed (all of them, in fact), or:

This wiped out the entire file for the project.

if no part of that one file was salvageable after the disaster.

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Is it correct to say "This wiped out entire files for the project" ? –  bubble Jul 9 '12 at 11:22
A better way to say it would be this wiped out entire project files. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jul 9 '12 at 13:47
@bubble: see CoolElf's answer below. As he says, entire is used with singular nouns, so, I don't like "This wiped out the entire files for the project." You could say "This wiped out the entire collection of files for the project," if you were hell-bent on using the word entire. –  J.R. Jul 9 '12 at 13:54
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They actually have different meanings and usage.

The meaning of "entire" is "complete." On the other hand, "all" is close in meaning to "every" or "the total number of."

Because of this, we normally use "entire" with singular Nouns.


the entire movie

her entire life

the entire class

"Entire" is also synonymous with "whole." So:

The entire file

-- while --

All the files

Your second example is possible but with a meaning slightly different from what you're expecting. "Entire files" could be used to emphasize the meaning of whole files and their number.

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