Which sentence is correct?

  1. Every apple, every orange, and every pear is good for you.

  2. Every apple, every orange, and every pear are good for you.

  • There seems to be a conflict of two rules here ('every' takes the singular; coordinated subjects take the plural). These Google Ngrams suggest that 'every man and every woman is' is the preferred usage, but that 'every man and every woman were' is not unknown.... Oct 26, 2016 at 18:36
  • 1
    I'd say that the proximity principle strongly encourages the choice of the singular verb form. Oct 26, 2016 at 18:36
  • @Peter I wouldn't use it, but this is a dodgy area. Most women, and every man ...? // The Google Ngram results seem particularly untrustworthy here. Oct 26, 2016 at 18:48
  • This is the correct answer and its explanation is accurate..
    – Lisa P.
    Nov 12, 2016 at 14:29
  • @EdwinAshworth In "X is/are good for you", I think that the critical issue regarding numerical agreement is whether X presents a singular or plural 'thing' to the rest of the sentence. In this case, the sense is that "every apple, every orange, and every pear" presents a singular item (any one instance of any of those named fruit types), so singular agreement applies. The alternate interpretation - that multiple fruit are presented at once - doesn't work in this sentence. I suspect that the numerical-agreement rules regarding every and and are something of a red herring here.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 4, 2017 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


Every is singular--even when there are many everys.

Although the simple answer above was down-voted by someone, consider the scope of quantification of every (or, for that matter, each):

Every (man, woman, and child) is invited. Each (man, woman, and child) is invited.

Distributing the quantifier does not change the quantification or the arity of the verb:

Every man, every woman, and every child is invited.

  • It seems to be more complicated than that though. The is also singular: (The car is blue) and it can be either distributed or not: The car and the truck -> The car and truck but these both take plural: The car and the truck are blue.
    – Jim
    Oct 26, 2016 at 22:11
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    A good answer on ELU needs supporting evidence, from a respected grammar say. Nov 4, 2017 at 12:44

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