Where would it be best to place the "all" (or any other word, for that matter) in this situation, and why?

These are all made-up sentences.

  • It all could have [could've] been different/ played out differently.
  • It could all have been different/ played out differently.
  • It could have [could've] all been different/ played out differently.
  • Come to think of it, I think one could even say " It could've been all different"

They all sound good to my ear, but I'd probably go, more often than not, with the third one.
I was thinking- maybe it has something to do with stress? (I never would've done that; I would never have done that; I would've never done that ).

Here's the same 'quote' worded differently (as above) in different newspapers:

  • The Independent have got it wrong, IMO. Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 23:26
  • Particularly since they're made-up sentences I for one think this belongs somewhere such as English Language Learners. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 1:45
  • 1
    Except for the newspaper quotes (which, OK, might have been made up, ...) Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 1:54
  • Robbie, thanks for your input. Most helpful. You'll have noticed, of course, that there are three quotes pulled straight out of newspapers and a book.
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 17:05
  • More importantly, did you notice that Independent article doesn't contain those words? Just like the Washington Post, the Independent used "we all could have done better". I confess I was too interested in the early part to notice those newspaper "quotes"… it'a also true that a single swallow doth not a summer make, even when the little beggar is observed in three different behaviours. Presumably Vetrano had the time Shah didn't, to think about very word. To me it's obvious both would have been better using "could all have done/been…" but you pays your money and you takes your choice. Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 5:04

2 Answers 2


It all could have been different. We all could have done better. it depends on what "all" means.

Think: It all and all better have a different meaning

It could have been much better, (not all better) It could involve all kinds of risk It could have been all kinds of All could have been better.


I would propose, to avoid any confusion, saying it could have been completely different or it could have turned out completely different[ly].

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