Introduction to Distributives in English Grammar
Distributives are words that help express divided or shared aspects of ideas, people or things. They let us talk about distributing things evenly, unevenly or one at a time. A distributive functions as a kind of determiner. It’s used with a singular noun and a singular verb.
Several words function as Distributives and each of them is distinct in meaning, although they can often be used interchangeably depending on the context. They include: each, every, either, neither and any.
Uses and Examples of Different Distributives
The distributive "each" refers to every one of two or more items, individually. It is also often used with a singular noun.
The distributive "every" refers to all members of a group and is used with singular nouns. It is usually used when the group has more than three members.
"Either" is used when you are talking about a choice between two items. It is often followed by "or".
"Neither" is used when not one of the two items or cases is true. It is often followed by "nor".
"Any" is used when the exact selection does not matter and can be any single member of the group. We use this distributive usually in questions and negative statements.
Rules Guiding the Use of Distributives
When to Use Each vs Every
Even though both ‘each’ and ‘every’ refer to all members of a group, they are used slightly differently. 'Each' is typically used when you are considering individuals separately within a group or a collection of items, whereas 'every' is used when considering the group as a whole. For instance:
Using Either and Neither
'Either' should only be used when you are referring to one of two items or choices, whereas 'neither' should be used when you’re talking about two things, both of which are not true. Here are some examples:
The Use of Any
'Any' is often used with singular countable nouns in questions and negative statements. It is also used with both countable and uncountable nouns, often in the context of offers and requests, as well as with positive sentences.
Distributives in English grammar are a fundamental component that aid in clear expression, particularly when it comes to indicating division, shares, or selectiveness. Grasping their usage immensely boosts communication skills.