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TWTS: We can't answer each question, but we appreciate "each and every" one

An evening of drinking beer and talking about grammar? Yes please.

Last week, we were thrilled to dust off our pint glasses and host another Grammar Night for Michigan Radio's Issues & Ale @ Home series. 

Grammar Night is always a lot of fun, and we get a lot of great questions. We can't get to them all, but we appreciate each and every one, including Harvey Pillersdorf's question about "each and every." 

Harvey asked, "I want to hear about using ‘each and every’ vs. merely ‘each.’ It seems ‘wrong’ to me, as redundant. Is there a distinction between these expressions?"

Harvey isn't the first one to wonder whether "each and every" is redundant. Others have referred to it as “jargony” and “trite.” However, this phrase has stood the test of time. The Oxford English Dictionary has citations of "each and every" that go back to 1536.

While it's true that "each and every" is technically redundant, redundancy isn't necessarily a problem. “Each and every” is used for emphasis. As speakers, there are times when we want to be emphatic.

Arguably, the "each" in "each and every" gives attention to the individual entities within a group. Then, "every" confirms that we're talking about all of those individual entities. For example, "Each and every one of my students is special." Each individual student is special, but they're also all special.

It’s similar to saying "every single one." For example, “I have 25 students, and every single one is special." The "single" isn't needed here, but it helps drive home the speaker’s feelings about each of their students.

To hear us talk about some of the other questions we received during Grammar Night, listen to the audio above. To watch a recording of Grammar Night, click here.

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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