Distributives are English determiners that tell how people or things are divided or shared within a group.

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The English distributives are:
(clicking on the links will take to you directly to a description of each distributive.)

Distributives are placed before the noun or noun phrase they are "distributing."

EACH, EVERY, EITHER, and NEITHER can be used with singular nouns.

EACH, EITHER, and NEITHER can be used with plural nouns when the word "of" is added after the distributive.

  • Each man is wearing a hat.men singing

  • Each singing man is wearing a hat.

  • Each of the men is wearing a hat.

  • Each of the singing men is wearing a hat.

  • Every man is wearing a hat.

  • Every singing man is wearing a hat.

    two men
  • Neither man is wearing a tie.

  • Neither of these men is wearing a tie.

  • Neither the first man nor the second man is wearing a tie.

  • Either dog would make a good pet.yellow dog

  • Either of the dogs would make a good pet.

  • You can pick either dog to take home.

    blue dog
  • We will take  home either the blue dog or the yellow dog.

  • You can pick either of the two dogs to take home.

English Distributives

A) Each

Each is a way of referring to the individual people or things in a group.

Each can be used with singular nouns.

Each can be used with plural nouns by adding the word "of".

  • I want each of you to write a book review.

  • Each employee has an office.

  • Each ham sandwich has two slices of bread.

  • Each of the students brought a computer to class.

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B) Every

Every is a way of including each person or thing when you talk about a group. It also tells how often something happens.

  • We go to church  every Sunday.

  • Every third day, I balance my checkbook.

  • Every teacher has 20 students.

  • She is perfect in every way.

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C) Either

Either is used when you talk about a choice between two people or things.

means "one or the other."

  • Either movie sounds exciting! (Both movies sound exciting.)

  • I will buy  either the black one or the white one.

  • I do not understand either language.

  • I do not like either one!

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D) Neither

Neither is the opposite of either.

Neither means "not either" or "not one and not the other."

Neither is sometimes paired with "nor".

  • Neither movie sounds exciting. (Both movies sound boring.)

  • Neither the first movie nor the second movie sounds exciting.

  • Neither of them came to my wedding.

  • Neither Sally nor John came to my wedding.

and  Neither can only be used when there are two options.
two people
  • Either John or Sandy will get the job.

  • Neither John nor Sandy was fired.

  • Neither employee was fired.

  • I invited two friends, but neither came.

If you are speaking of more than two things or people, you should use any, no one, or none.
  • Any person could get the job.group of people

    (There are more than two people applying for the job.)

  • None of the employees was fired.

    (There are more than two employees.)

  • I invited ten friends, but no one came.

These were the uses of Distributives. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books.

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