ALL (determiner)

Used with plural nouns. The noun may have the, this, that, my, her, his, etc. in front of it, or a number.


Does OED's definition imply after all you can't have both a determiner and a number, as in all these five answers are wrong, or all the five people wanted to go?

What about These five answers are all wrong and The five people all wanted to ?

  • We don't normally follow "all" by both a determiner and a number, but in some contexts it's perfectly okay. Witness at least dozens, if not hundreds, of written instances of all these three things in Google Books. Come to that, all these/those three things might need to be distinguished from all those other five things. – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '20 at 13:07

all these five answers are wrong, or all the five people wanted to go

Neither of these is exactly incorrect. They aren't particularly idiomatic though. It's just more common to say:

all five of these answers are wrong


all five people wanted to go

I think that the rule given in the dictionary is a reasonable one.

  • 1
    It depends entirely on context. I can easily think of contexts where All these five answers are wrong [but both those two answers are correct] is perfectly idiomatic (with or without stress on these). Not so easy with all the five people, but it's not inherently a "non-idiomatic" construction. – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '20 at 13:12
  • English is a flexible language and there are many things that we can say. However I'm not convinced by your assertion. The phrase "but those two answers are correct" is perfectly good, however it does not contain the word "all". Sometimes those of us who regularly answer these questions can become used to "international" English as perpetrated by European countries. English speakers are good at assimilation so, when we see a novel construction, we have a tendency to accept it. This is often seen on translation forums. For example we often see Spanglish on English-Spanish sites. – chasly - supports Monica Nov 21 '20 at 13:19
  • P.S. I might say "All of these five answers are wrong, but both of those two answers are correct". I personally would not omit the "of" – chasly - supports Monica Nov 21 '20 at 13:24
  • I just meant that one particular context where all + [determiner] + [number] [pluralnoun] is perfectly natural is when [determiner] things are being contrasted with [other determiner] instances of the same [pluralnoun]. But the example could just as well be All these five are good, but all those five are rubbish. It's neither here nor there to me whether to include of in either or both or the referents. – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '20 at 13:25
  • There are a lot of examples for 'all these many' (often with 'years'). Joshua 21:26 [New International Version] reads 'All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.' // Answers should carry supporting references. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 21 '20 at 14:40

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