These words refer to a group of people or things, and to individual members of the group. They show different ways of looking at the individuals within a group, and they express how something is distributed, shared or divided.


These distributive words are normally used with singular nouns, and are placed before the noun.

Each, either and neither can be used with plural nouns but must be followed by of:

Each is a way of seeing the members of a group as individuals:

  • Each child received a present.
  • Each of the children received a present.

Every is a way of seeing a group as a series of members:

  • Every child in the world deserves affection.

It can also express different points in a series, especially with time expressions:

  • Every third morning John goes jogging.
  • This magazine is published every other week.

Either and Neither are concerned with distribution between two things – either is positive, neither is negative:

  • Which chair do you want? Either chair will do.
  • I can stay at either hotel, they are both good
  • There are two chairs here. You can take either of them.
  • Neither chair is any good, they’re both too small.
  • Which chair do you want? Neither of them – they’re both too small.