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A DISTRIBUTIVE PRONOUN is used when there are more than one persons or things, to indicate that the persons or things are taken separately.
The words each, every, either, and neither are the distributive pronouns. These words are always singular and followed by the verb in singular.
How to use Distributive Pronouns
Each is used to refer to every one of two or more people or things of a group occurring in the thought. It is used when the group (number) is definite and small.
- Each car is custom-manufactured. (here we are thinking of every car individually.)
- Access cards will be given to each resident of the estate.
Every is used with singular nouns to refer to all the members of a group of things or people collectively.
- Every applicant for the job was interviewed. (Here, we are thinking of all the people that applied for the job.)
- I enjoyed every minute of our honeymoon in Cape Town.
Summary and Key Points
- When the number in a group is definite and small we use each to refer to every member of the group.
- When the number is indefinite we use every to refer to all the members of the group collectively.
Note that the phrase each and every is used for emphasis and takes singular verb.
- Each and every member of the resident has collected his/her (their) access card.
Either means one or the other of two people or things. And only singular verb is used in its expression.
- Either of the two athletes is a footballer. (not ‘were footballers’)
- Either of the two boys was present. (not ‘were present’)
Neither means not the one nor the other of two people or things. Likewise, only singular verb is used in its expression.
- Neither of the athletes is a footballer (not ‘were footballers’)
- Neither of the boys was present. (not ‘were present’)