Distributive Determiners

Definition with Examples

Distributive Determiners are words that give information about the noun in a clause or sentence. They may refer to a group or every individual in the group. Examples/words/list of Distributive Determiners are- each, every, all, both, half, either and neither.

For an instance suppose you have two pens and you are saying to a listener- ‘Both my pens are black in color.’ The listener knows that you are referring to the group as a whole. Now consider the sentence-‘Each pen has a fountain nib’. Here the listener knows that you are referring to the group but giving clarity on the property of individual members in this case ‘pens’.  Each of the Distributive Determiner serves different purpose in a clause-

  • ‘Each’ and ‘Every’ talk about the individual members of a group.
  • ‘All’ collectively talks about the whole group.
  • ‘Half’ talks about the divided group.
  • ‘Either’ and ‘neither’ talk about a group of two.

We will further understand the different Distributive Determiners with help of suitable examples-

Use of ‘Each’ and ‘Every’ as Distributive Determiner

‘Each’ is used to refer to every individual in a group while ‘every’ is used to see the group as collection of members. Both ‘each’ and ‘every’ can only be used with countable nouns.  Consider the sentences-

  • Each child was laughing.
  • Every child was laughing.
  • He got each man out safely.
  • He got every man out safely.

‘Each’ when followed by ‘of’ can be used for plural nouns also. For Ex-

  • Each of the children was laughing.
  • He got each of the men out safely.
  • Each of the windows was broken.
  • Each of the cats was purring loudly.
  • Each of the phones was out of reach.

‘Every’ on the other hand cannot be used with plural nouns. For Ex-

  • Every children were laughing. – Incorrect
  • Every men was running. – Incorrect

Use of ‘all’ as Distributive Determiner

‘All’ refers to every member of the group collectively. All may refer to the uncountable nouns or plural countable nouns.  For Ex consider the following sentences-

  • All milk was spoiled.
  • All men need money.
  • All cats love milk.

Sometimes while referring to the plural nouns ‘all’ can be followed by ‘the’ or ‘of the’. For Ex-

  • All the children were playing.
  • All of the men were in a hurry.
  • All of you have to pay for it.

With plural uncountable nouns-

  • I need all of the sugar.
  • Who drank all of the juice?
  • You need all of you courage!

Use of ‘half’ as a Distributive Determiner

Half determines the group or quantity exactly divided into two equal parts. We will understand the use of ‘half’ with help of certain examples-

  • Half of his money goes to charity.
  • He ate half of the banana.
  • I gave him half of the sugar I had.
  • Half of them were on holiday.
  • They invited half of their relatives to the wedding.

For measurements ‘half’ is used prefixed with ‘a’ or ‘an’. For Ex-

  • Bring half a kilo tea from the market.
  • May I have half a cup of tea please?
  • Every day he walks for nearly half a mile.
  • I eat half an apple every morning.

Use of ‘both’, ‘either’ and ‘neither’ as Distributive Determiners

‘Both’, ‘either’ and ‘neither’ are used to refer to a pair of person, place or thing. ‘Both’ collectively refers to the whole pair, ‘either’ on the other hand refers to any one member from the pair and neither negates the pair. Go through the following sentences-

  • Both my cars are black.
  • Both of my cars are black.
  • Both boys went to Seattle.
  • Both the boys went to Seattle.
  • Both of the boys went to Seattle.

All the above sentences are grammatically correct.

Either is used to refer to any one member of the pair and is stresses equivalence on both of the members. For Ex-

  • Either of the books was worth keeping.
  • I would love to dine at either of the hotels.
  • Either man was courteous.
  • Either dog was barking.
  • He can come either in evening or early morning.

‘Neither’ negates the pair and is equivalent to- not the one nor the other.

  • Neither car is working.
  • Neither child came.
  • Neither of the men went on leave.
  • Neither of the dogs barked.

Either and neither can be used with plural nouns when prefixed with ‘of’-

  • Either of men was dancing.
  • Neither of the cows gives milk.

Exercises/Activities/Worksheets with Answers:

Fill in the Blanks

Please complete the below sentences by using proper Distributive determiners. Verify your progress with the answers provided in the end.

1) _______ of us was given a grand reception.

2) _______ man is responsible for his own life.

3) Rony drank ______ the milk from the jug.

4) _______ the books were a good read.

5) He spends _______ of his salary on garments.

6) ________ of you will do the job.

7) ________ of the men was suitable for the job.

8) He told ________ men their responsibilities.

9) He gave me ________ of his fruits.

10) I have been waiting _______ day for this moment.

MCQs Exercises on Distributive Determiners with Answers:

1) ________ man wore a suit.

  1. a) all
  2. b) each
  3. c) half

2) ________ child should go to school.

  1. a) all
  2. b) each
  3. c) every

3) _______ guards were caught sleeping.

  1. a) either
  2. b) each
  3. c) every

4) _______ of the parent will go to the school to pick up the child.

  1. a) half
  2. b) either
  3. c) both

5) _______ man was willing to work on Sundays.

  1. a) neither
  2. b) both
  3. c) all

6) ________ of them swims well.

  1. a) both
  2. b) all
  3. c) neither

7) _______ that glitters is not gold.

  1. a) half
  2. b) all
  3. c) either

8) _______ of the parents was waiting for their kid.

  1. a) each
  2. b) all
  3. c) half

9) ________ of you can be successful provided you work.

  1. a) half
  2. b) any
  3. c) every

10) I will eat _______ the banana or the mango.

  1. a) any
  2. b) all
  3. c) either

True or False Exercises on Distributive Determiners:

1) Each the cats were purring loudly.

2) Both child were playing.

3) Both of them like swimming.

4) I can stay at either houses.

5) Either of you go there.

6) Neither of dogs was barking.

7) Neither of these interests me.

8) All is going to the party.

9) I like all horses.

10) I like all dog.


Fill in the blanks- 1)each, 2)every, 3)all, 4)all/both, 5)all/half, 6)both, 7)Either, 8)all, 9)all/half, 10)all

MCQs- 1)b, 2)c, 3)a, 4)b, 5)a, 6)c, 7)b, 8)a, 9)b, 10)c

True or False- 1)false, 2)false, 3)true, 4)false, 5)true, 6)true, 7)true, 8)false, 9)true, 10)false

How you can make True the False ones, here it is described:

1) Each of the cats was purring loudly.

2) Both children were playing.

4) I can stay at either house.

8) All are going to the party.

10) I like all dogs.

Related Topics:

Possessive Determiners
Interrogative Determiners
Quantifier Determiners
Article Determiners

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