What are distributive adjectives? They are each, every, either and neither. We use distributive adjectives to refer to singular nouns that usually include a collective group or more than one person. Let’s take a closer look at some examples.
- I want each person to do their job correctly.
- After the exam, each candidate will have to present their thesis to the class.
- I want each student to give the challenge a go.
Nearly interchangeable with ‘each’, only ‘every’ can only be used with singular nouns and not plural nouns.
- I would like every person to stand up, please.
- Every chapter in the series is really interesting.
- Do you want to vote for every single party?
Either: used to choose or imply one out of two options
- Which dog would you like to keep, the Border Collie or the German Shepard? I don’t like either one of them, I’m looking for a Labrador.
- You can come next week either on Monday or Tuesday, either day is fine.
- I’m looking for a good Tin-tin book, either a hardcover or a softcover. Either one is fine.
Neither: used to imply negativity and not opting or choosing for both options
- Neither my colleague nor I have done a decent job on the project.
- I really don’t like those two buildings, neither one of them is beautiful.
- How did you find the two cars you were looking into buying? Neither of them was to my liking.
Of these distributive adjectives, which one would you choose?
- I don’t want either of them.
- I want neither of them.
We can also use ‘either’ in the sense of ‘neither’ when negating two options. However, we have to use ‘either’ with a negative construction and ‘neither’ with a positive construction, even though grammatically the sentence is negative, the sense in both is negative.
Both sentences are correct. The first sentence uses a negative construction with ‘don’t and ‘either’ and the second sentence uses a positive construction with ‘want’ and ‘neither’ but both are negative and hold the same meaning.
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling