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What is the difference between the following two sentences?

Each apple is red.

Every apple is red.

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5 Answers 5

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Strictly speaking, the two sentences mean the same thing. However, the sentence "Each apple is red" is slightly unusual, and the more natural way to express this would be "Every apple is red", or "All apples are red."

The reason is that the word each is generally used in situations where we consider the apples individually or sequentially, whereas every and all are used for generalizations. So we might say:

We spray-painted each apple red.

Here each is appropriate because every apple was painted individually. However, most people wouldn't say the following:

[?] Each apple turned red by October.

This isn't technically wrong, but it sounds unnatural. Much more usual would be to say one of the following:

Every apple turned red by October.

All the apples turned red by October.

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  • And when do you say "each and every"? Aug 3, 2017 at 6:12
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    I think that the phrase "each apple" is always used to refer to individual apples; wheras "every apple" refers to the apples as a collective whole. Aug 16 at 2:29
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Perhaps this question has already been answered, but here's my two cents:

Each is used for the individual person or item, and the focus is on the individual, not the group.

Every is also used for the individual, although the focus is shifted to the group. Consider the following quote from Dictionary.com:

Each, every are alike in having a distributive meaning. Of two or more members composing an aggregate, each directs attention to the separate members in turn: Each child (of those considered and enumerated) received a large apple. Every emphasizes inclusiveness or universality: Every child (of all in existence) likes to play.

However, a couple of years ago I came across a somewhat novel usage, or perhaps archaic usage, of each: the poetic each. Simply put, this is a full synonym or every, as in the following excerpt:

The Holy Spirit is working in your heart;
This is the day to give the Lord each part.

— "The Lord is Calling" by Greg and Heather Murray

The sense of each in the quote above is obvious. It does not mean to give the Lord one piece of your heart at a time; it means to surrender your entire heart. Now, technically, this usage is not usually considered; it may even be considered incorrect by textbook English standards. I simply want to point out its existence.

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Each is used to refer to individual people. Every is used to refer to a group.

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Examples

The following two examples demonstrate the difference between the words "each" and "every":

Each letter is wrapped in parentheses

(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F)(G)

Every letter is wrapped in parentheses

(ABCDEFGHIJK)

we can expound further

If the earlier examples made sense to you, then can stop reading if you like.

In general, the word "each" can replaced by the phrase "each individual"

The following two sentences are semmantically equivilant but differ in syntax:

  • each letter is wrapped in parentheses.
  • each individual letter is wrapped in parentheses.

The word "every" cannot be replaced by the phrase "every individual"

The word "every" can be used to mean either of the following:

  • each individual
  • the group taken as a whole instead of as individuals.

The word "Each" always refers to individuals.

Formal logic and mathematics tend to be less ambigous than English. In mathematical logic, we would have the following examples of sentences:

  1. For any letter L there exists parentheses P such that L is wrapped in P

  2. There exist parentheses P such that for any letter L we have it be the case that L is wrapped in P.

  3. We have a set of numbers. The set itself is big. Maybe the numbers are big too, but we do not know about the numbers, we only know about the set. Maybe the numbers are small, such as 0.1 but the set contains a lot of numbers.

  4. We have a set of numbers. For each number in the set, the number is big. We do not know whether or not the set is big. Maybe the set is small.

1 implies 2.

However, 2 does not imply 1.

The word "every" can mean 3 or 4 (either the box is big or each item inside of the box is big)

If you have a box of items, the word "each" refers to individual items inside of the box but not the box itself.

The phrase "everything is wrapped in parentheses" means 1 or 2, but usually 2. That is the parentheses could be shared or separate but usually, shared.

Unlike the word "every" the word "each" is never used to say that the set is big. Instead the word "each" refers to the individual things inside of the set. You couldwrite, "each marble in the set of marbles is blue."

The phrase "every marble" is similair in meaning to the phrase "the set of marbles". Thus we could have "the set of marbles is blue" instead of "each indidual marble is blue".

As another example...

There is a suburb in which everyone owns a lawn mower. However, it is unclear whether they share the same lawn mower or have seperate ones.

For different people living in the same suburb, the lawn mowers they own could be different. There could be different lawnmowers For different folks.

Alternatvly, there could be one lawn mower such that everyone in the same suburb takes turns using that lawn mower. There could be 1 lawn mower shared across 20 different people.

If you write that,"everyone has access to a lawn mower", then the people could share the lawn mower or each person could have their own individual lawn mower. The word every is ambiguous.

If you write, "each individual person has their own lawn-mower,"then there are 20 different lawn mowers for 20 different people.

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Consider the sentences:

  1. "Every sandgrain is big"
  2. "Each sandgrain is big"
  3. "The set of all sand grains is big"
  4. "Any sandgrain in the set of sandgrains is big"

1 can be equivilaant to 3 or 4.

2 is equivilant to 4 and 2 is never equivilant to 3.

If you say that "every egg is big" then that could be interpreted as:

  • a metaphorical basket of eggs is big, but each egg is unusually small.

  • the metaphorical basket of eggs is small, but each egg in the basket is large.

That is, we could have a large collection of small eggs or a small collection of individually large eggs.

"Every mouse" describes a large set.

The phrase "Every person" refers to a group of people or a set or people.

The phrase "each person" refers to individual people.