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Today I was writing a simple message to be shown to the user whenever at least one field was not supplied.

Every/All fields must be supplied.

I'm in doubt about the usage of Every vs All, which one do you think is the most appropriate here ?

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"Every" is more appropriate if you want sure that no field remain excluded. Yes, it is strange; but English is not like logic. –  user19148 Jul 9 '12 at 20:23
3  
But every is singular, so the plural on fields has to go. Otherwise they're the same. –  John Lawler Jul 9 '12 at 20:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you can get it, you should read Zeno Vendler's article "Each and Every, Any and All," (originally published in Vol LXXI, no. 282 of Mind, April 1962; and reprinted in his 1967 book Linguistics in Philosophy).

Vendler goes through this set of English quantifiers and shows their differences and similarities. I don't have my copy handy, so I'll just list a few differences here. These are all universal quantifiers, by the way.

  • Although they are semantically plural, each and every are grammatically singular, while all is grammatically plural.

    • Each student has a passing grade.
    • Every student has a passing grade.
    • All students have a passing grade.
  • each and all are subject to Quantifier-float, but every isn't. (Note that Q-float with each requires a plural subject and verb, instead of singular.)

    • Each student passed the course. ~ The students each passed the course.
    • All students passed the course. ~ The students all passed the course.
    • Every student passed the course. ~ *The student(s) every passed the course.
  • as quantifiers, each, every, and all have quite different determiner constructions.

    • all men, all the men, all of the men, all of them, all N of them (N > 2)
    • each man, *each the men, each of the men, each of them, each one of them
    • every man, *every the man, *every of the man, *every of them, every one of them.
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Great answer. It is a lesson of grammar. Thank you +1 –  user19148 Jul 9 '12 at 20:50

It's a matter of number agreement. Either of these are acceptable:

Every field must be supplied.

All fields must be supplied.

You could also say each field must be supplied.

I must say that I disagree with field and supplied together. The user is supplying information, not fields. May I suggest:

Each field/All fields must be completed?

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I understand your point of view though "supplied" here is the most used expression, I guess. –  utxeee Jul 9 '12 at 20:42
    
I'd agreed with cornbread ninja. Supplied here indicates that the fields must be made available. For example, "When creating a form for your customers to fill out, make sure that all of these fields are supplied." However, I suppose you could say "All fields must be supplied with an answer." –  Dean Jul 10 '12 at 1:35

I was gonna say what cornbread said, but then I realized he already said it. The word "supplied" is the reason for the ambiguity. If "completed" doesn't float your boat you could always put "Each field must contain a response".

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