LINGUIST List 9.804

Fri May 29 1998

Sum: "all-every"

Editor for this issue: Anita Huang <>


  1. Alice Drewery, all-every

Message 1: all-every

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 12:11:29 +0100
From: Alice Drewery <>
Subject: all-every

Dear Linguist-list readers,

This is a very belated summary of the responses I received to my query
about `all' and `every', which I posted back in February. Apologies
for the length of time this has taken; I got distracted with other

My query was:

Can anyone point me to work done on the semantic differences between
the quantifiers "all" and "every"? Clearly they don't mean exactly
the same, but has anyone studied exactly what the differences are?

First, many thanks to all those who responded:

Will Lowe, Massimo Poesio, Henry Thompson, Colin Matheson, Hiroaki
Tanaka, Ash Asudeh, Line Mikkelsen, Ian Mackenzie, Christine Brisson,
Jean-Francois Joubert, Larry Horn, Suzanne E Kemmer, Jean-Charles
Khalifa, Georges Rebuschi, Michael B. Smith, Kate Kearns, Andrew
McMichael, Rodger Kibble, Louise McNally, Yishai Tobin, Marie-Odile
Junker, Retta Whinnery, David Houghton, Ananbel Cormack.

The canonical paper which many people referred to was:

Zeno Vendler (1967) "Each and Every, Any and All." in his book of
essays, "Linguistics in Philosophy", Cornell University Press.

Other general references on all/every:

Aldridge, M.V. (1982) English Quantifiers: A Study of Quantifying
Expressions in Linguistic Science and Modern English. London: Avebury.

Yishai Tobin, 1994. Invariance, markedness and distinctive feature
analysis: A contrastive study of sign systems in English and Hebrew.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Jim McCawley, 1981, "Everything Linguists Always Wanted to Know About
Logic (but were Ashamed to Ask)"

Marie-Odile Junker, 1994, "French Universal Quantifiers in Conceptual
Semantics", Linguistics, 32-2: 213-239. 

Marie-Odile Junker, 1995, Syntaxe et smantique des quantifieurs
flottants tous et chacun, Distributivit en smantique conceptuelle,
Droz: Geneve, 1995: 183 p. 

Many people pointed out that `every' is distributive but `all' often
prefers a non-distributive reading which is not possible with
`every'. References on this:

The chapters by David GIL & Martin HASPELMATH in Emmon BACH et
al. (eds.), _Quantification in Natural Languages_, Dordrecht: Kluwer,

Beghelli and Stowell "Negation and Distributivity", in Szabolcsi (ed.)
_Ways of Scope Taking_, Kluwer.

Godehard Link (1987) "Generalized Quantifiers and Plurals" in
P. Gardenfors, Ed. "Generalized Quantifiers" Reidel Publishers.

David Dowty (1987) "Collective Predicates, Distributive Predicates,
and All" in the proceedings of the 3rd ESCOL (Eastern States
Conference on Linguistics).

Taub, Alison (1989) "Collective Predicates, Aktionsarten, and all" in
Bach, Kratzer, Partee, eds., "Papers on Quantification" University of
Massachusetts (not formally published).

Christine Brisson writes that her dissertation claims that `all' is
not a quantifier at all, contrary to what is usually assumed, and that
part of this was presented at SALT 7 last year.

Larry Horn sent me his recent CLS paper: "All John's Children are as
Bald as the King of France: Existential Import and the Geometry of
Opposition." from CLS 33, 1997, treating existential import of
universally quantified statements, among other things. Further
references on this are:

P F Strawson, 1952, Introduction to Logical Theory, London Methuen

J Moravcsik, 1991. "All A's are B's": Form and Content. Journal of
Pragmatics 16, 427-441.

Several people referred me to the cognitive grammar standpoint,
particularly Ron Langacker's work. References:

Ron Langacker, 1991, "Foundations of Cognitive Grammar",
Stanford University Press.

Jean-Remi LAPAIRE and Wilfrid ROTGE (1991) "Linguistique et Grammaire
de l'Anglais". Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail. (in French)

Jean-Charles Khalifa says:

Yours is now a standard problem for French linguists working under
different frameworks, mostly enunciative theories inspired by
Benveniste, Antoine Culioli or many others. I'm afraid their work is
very little known outside this country, and written in French most of
the time...

Anyway, to make a very long story short, "all" conveys the idea of
totality and exhaustivity. In a mathematical-like set theory, this
amounts to considering the whole set rather than the members of the
said set. On the other hand, "every" is etymologically "ever-each". It
involves an operation which is a lot more complex, beginning with
scanning EACH member of the set before considering the whole. This
explains in particular why plurality is inherent in "all", when
singularity remains at the very heart of "every".

I'm posting just this list of references now as it's so long since the
original request, but I'd be keen to discuss the issues further with
anyone who's interested. 


Alice Drewery.

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Alice Drewery Centre for Cognitive Science University of Edinburgh			 tel: +44 (0)131 650 4436
- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue