I am sure that there are some exceptions to this, but I have noticed that distributive adjectives like “each”, “every”, “either”, “neither”, etc., mostly take a singular noun, while quantitative adjectives like “some”, “many”, “all”, “few” etc., in most cases take a plural noun. Both of these set of words refer to the number of something, sound similar and are used in similar contexts, but they have different rules guiding them. Is there some deep reason for why this is the case?

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    This classification is not used by any grammarians I've come across recently. Some determiners take singular, some plural, verb-forms. // 'Much', used with non-count nouns, takes a singular verb-form. Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 18:46
  • How do you define "distributive" vs. "quantitative" adjectives? What makes you classify "every" as the former and "all" as the latter? (I ask because the obvious difference is the fact that you're asking about, namely "every" takes a singular noun whereas "all" takes a plural noun; but if that's your definition, then the question seems circular.)
    – ruakh
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


The 'quantitative adjectives' determine the size of a group, but the 'distributive adjectives' consider all members of a [mentioned] group taken one at a time -- which makes them obligatorily singular.

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