Everyone vs. Every One: How to Choose the Right Word

An Indefinite Pronoun or a Noun and Its Modifier

Group of young people sitting in circle on grass, elevated view
Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

"Everyone" (one word) and "every one" (two words) have similar roles to play in English grammar, but those roles aren't the same. "Everyone" always refers to human beings, while "every one" could refer to the members of a group of anything.

How to Use "Everyone"

The word "everyone" is an indefinite pronoun, that is to say, it is a pronoun that refers to an indefinite group of people. "Everyone" (one word) is a synonym for "everybody" (although "everybody" is slightly less formal), and it means all the people, every person—as in "Sooner or later, everyone goes to the zoo." "Everyone" always refers to people, to humans, or to humanity in general.

How to Use "Every One"

The phrase "every one" (which combines a modifier and a noun) is more explicit, referring to each individual or thing in a particular group—as in "Every one of our friends has gone to the zoo." "Every one" is usually followed by the preposition "of." In practice, "every one" is a near synonym of "each one of a set," so it does not necessarily refer to humans at all: therefore, you must tell who or what you are referring to.

Examples

If you're referring to human beings, your choice of "everyone" versus "every one" is a question of intent. If you mean to make a generalization that means every person, use "everyone."

  • "Everyone loves potatoes" and "Everyone in the cafeteria loves potatoes" are general statements.
  • "Everybody Loves Raymond" was a popular television show, but not everyone liked it.

If you wish to be specific or emphatic, use "every one" and be sure to state who "one" refers to.

  • "Every one of the students in the cafeteria loves potatoes" allows you to define who "one" refers to.
  • "God bless us, every one!" spoken by Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, is a blessing specific to "us." If he had omitted the "us," Dickens would have to have written "God bless everyone" or "God bless every one of us," neither of which is as memorable as the original.

On the other hand, if you are referring to nonhuman objects, always use "every one," as in

  • Every one of those potatoes is rotten.
  • "I've counted every one of those chairs, and I know there is not enough seating for everyone coming." In this case, "every one" could be replaced by "each," but "every one" is more emphatic.

How to Remember the Difference

"Everyone" always refers to people. "Every one," on the other hand, is a synonym of "each" and can refer to people or anything else, living or not. You can't use "each" in a sentence without identifying who or what "each" refers to, and the same is true of "every one."

Sources

  • “Every One; Everyone.” The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., The University of Chicago Press, 2010, p. 280.
  • “Everyone | Definition of Everyone in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/everyone.