What Are Distributives?
Distributives are words or phrases that are used to refer to individual members of a group or to distribute an action or quality across the members of a group.
The most common distributives in English are:
Referring to Two People or Things
The distributives 'both', 'neither', and 'either' always refer to two things or people.
'Both' refers to all the members of a pair and is equivalent to 'one and the other'.
'Both' is always used with plural nouns. For example:
woman were beautiful.')
Hold it in
Both as a Pre-determiner
When 'both' is used before a determiner (as a pre-determiner), we can use it with or without the preposition 'of'. Look at the examples:
Both as an Appositive Pronoun
Both can also be used as an emphatic pronoun. When 'both' is used to repeat or emphasize specific information, it is used as an appositive pronoun.
I want them
When 'both' is used before a pronoun, it should be followed by the preposition 'of'. 'Both of' is an example of a partitive.
them loved her.')
Both as a Pronoun
'Both' can be used as a pronoun, without any noun(s) or other determiners following it:
Would you like milk or sugar or
Both is not usually used in negative clauses. In negative clauses that refer to two things or people, 'neither' is used.
'Neither' is the opposite of 'both' and is used to express a negative distribution between two things. It means 'not one and not the other' and is typically used before singular nouns. For example:
It was a game in which
Neither Followed by 'Of'
'Neither' can be followed by the preposition 'of'. In this case, a partitive structure is formed. Pay attention to the examples:
Neither as a Pronoun
'Neither' can be used as a pronoun, without any noun(s) or other determiners:
'Would you like sugar or milk?' '
I have two phones, but
We can use 'neither of' before a plural noun or pronoun. In formal speech and writing a singular verb is used with it. For example:
Neither of the cakes
However, in informal speech and writing we can use a plural verb:
Neither of the cakes
Neither ... Nor as Pre-determiner
'Neither' and 'nor' can be used as pre-determiners before a head noun. When used together, 'neither' and 'nor' connect two things or people and mean 'not this one and not that one'. This construction is typically used in negative sentences and is considered formal. Take a look at the example:
In more informal conversation, it is better to say 'I don't like sugar or milk in my coffee.'
'Either' is a positive term that offers a choice between two options, while 'neither' is a negative term that indicates that neither option is chosen. 'Either' is typically used before singular nouns to mean 'one or the other'.
'Either' is typically followed by a singular verb, regardless of whether the noun it modifies is singular or plural. Pay attention to the examples:
I don't like
Either Followed by 'Of'
When using an object pronoun or a plural noun with a determiner, we must use the construction 'either of' to refer to one of two options. For example:
I didn't like
Either as a Pronoun
'Either' can be used as a pronoun, without any noun(s) or other determiners:
'Which do you prefer?' '
There's sugar or milk – you can have
Either ... Or
We can combine 'either' with 'or' to connect two things or people. 'Either ... or' represents a choice between two possibilities. For example:
Referring to Three or More Things/People
The distributives 'all', 'each', and 'every' refer to three or more things or people.
'All' refers to three or more people or things. 'All' is used with plural and uncountable nouns. It means 'the whole number or amount' of people or things considered as a group. For example:
All as a Pre-determiner
When using a noun with a determiner, we can use 'all' or 'all of'. However, when using a pronoun, only 'all of' is allowed. For example:
All as a Pronoun
'All' can be used as a pronoun, without any noun(s) or other determiners:
Each as a Pre-determiner
'Each' is used to refer to all individuals or items within a group when there are three or more things or people. It is typically used with singular nouns to emphasize the individuality of each item or person. For example:
Each as a Pronoun
We can also use 'each' as a pronoun.
We can find something for