On a language-exchange app I use, a non-native speaker said (emphasis mine):

When you are absolutely sick and tired of exams and everything you want is to listen to music

One person corrected everything to all, and the non-native asked why they made the change. I’ve tried googling the answer for a while now, and read up a little on pronouns and determiners, but I still don’t know how to explain it.

So my question is: How do you explain why you’re supposed to use all instead of everything here?

1 Answer 1


Because in this context, everything and all are not synonymous. In certain situations, they can mean the same the thing, more or less. For instance:

He wanted to experience everything the city had to offer.

means the same thing as

He wanted to experience all the city had to offer.

However, in the case of:

All you want to do is listen to music...

then all serves to exclude everything else from consideration. In other words, you don't want to do anything else except listen to music. That's all you want to do.

So that's the distinction.

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