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.
Remember to note:
- 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.