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Distributive adjectives

What are distributive adjectives? They are: each, every, either and neither. We use distributive adjectives to refer to a singular noun that usually includes a collective group or more than one person.


  • 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.

Every: (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 hard-cover or a soft cover. Either one is fine.

Neither: used to imply negativity and not opting or choosing for both options 

  • Neither my colleague or 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.

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We can also use ‘either’ in the sense of ‘neither’ when negating two options but 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.

Which option would you like to choose? 1) I don’t want either of them. or  2) I want neither of them.

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. 

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