Archive - Say What? RSS Feed

Each and Every Way to Get Confused

The words each and every are used so interchangeably, they seem like they mean the same things. But they don’t.

Grammarians call them quantifiers, which is just a highfalutin word that means “number” or “quantity.” Each and every go with singular nouns and are used to indicate quantity. But neither indicates a specific number. So while their meanings are similar, the words are not always interchangeable.

Use each when you’re referring to the persons or items in a group individually; use every when you consider the group as a unit.

  • Each member of the team received a ribbon for participating.
  • Every ribbon was green.

Use each when there are two persons or items; use every for groups of three or more.

  • Two members of the team were named as scholar-athletes. Each rejoiced at the honor.
  • Every team member congratulated them.

Continue Reading…

More Handy Hyphenation Rules

I’ve presented a number of posts on hyphenation, so if this is a subject that you get stuck on, check out previous posts by putting “hyphenation” in the search bar at the top of the page.

It’s good to know that in some cases the meaning of a word changes if you hyphenate it. Take a look at these pairs of words:

  • rebound: to spring back or recover; re-bound: to tie again (retie)
  • recollect: remember; re-collect: collect again (regather)
  • recover: heal, restore; re-cover: to cover something again
  • recreate: to engage in recreation; re-create: to create again

Notice that this is an issue with words that begin with the prefix re. Continue Reading…

Are You Between or Among?

What’s a little joke between friends? Assuming there are just two of you, between is correct. But if you’re talking about a broader circle of friends, you’ll want to use among.

Often people think between is used only when referring to two persons, objects, or groups. It’s true that when the choice is between two distinct options, between is the right choice.

  • Edith couldn’t decide between the red or the black dress.
  • Jeremy’s college choice was between Harvard and Yale.

But between is also correct when there are more than two options. CMOS explains it this way: Between is “perfectly appropriate for more than two objects if multiple one-to-one relationships are understood from the context.” Continue Reading…