Each and Every Redundancy

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington

[This post originally appeared on my Wordsplash blog in 2008.]


wordsplash-home-tmbHere’s another common phrase that makes me squirm: “each and every.” As in, “I love each and every one of my toenails.”

People use that phrase all the time (“each and every,” not the toenails part), and I’m thinking, isn’t that redundant? defines each this way: “Every one of two or more considered individually or one by one.”

They define every like this: “Being one of a group or series taken collectively;each.”

That is not to suggest the two words are identical. The BBC, on its Learning English website, explains the difference between the two words:

 Each indicates two or more objects or people and everyindicates three or more. Each can also be used as a pronoun, butevery cannot be.”

Okay, so there are subtle differences, but using them together is almost always redundant. There’s no difference between “I love each one of my toenails,” and “I love every one of my toenails.” (And to say, “I love each and every one of my toenails,” is just plain creepy… but that’s beside the point.)

So which is better — “each” or “every?” I say “each.” Why? Fewer words mean tighter writing. With “each,” we can use one less word. You can say, “I love each of my toenails,” but you can’t say, “I love every of my toenails.”

[Tune in Wednesday morning for the most ridiculous use ever of the word, “each.”]

Comments from the original blog:

Hear, hear. “Each and every one of you” grates on my nerves! And so many people us this as a way to conveying their deep appreciation for the individuals they are addressing. I understand the desire to emphasize the point, but to me it just sounds verbose and silly.

Posted by: Rita | June 20, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2008

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