Sunday, December 5, 2010

Each: singular, or plural?

I received an e-mail this morning from a reader asking about each: does it take a singular verb, or plural? Garner’s Modern English Usage has the answers. I’ll paraphrase:

1. Each usually takes a singular verb. A sample sentence from an earlier post: “Each of these issues becomes a non-issue with handwritten work.”

2. When each is not itself the subject and the subject is plural, the verb should be plural. Another sample from an earlier post: “‘We each have an opposable thumb,’ I said.”

[Reader, my e-mails to you bounced back. I hope you see what you’re looking for here. In the sentences you asked about, the verbs should be singular.]

A related post
If I were , if I was

comments: 6

steven goldleaf said...

How about "We all have opposable thumbs?" We, after all, is a plural noun.

Michael Leddy said...

Sure, but the context involved just two people (click on the link).

steven goldleaf said...

Then I'd recommend "We both have opposable thumbs."

Michael Leddy said...

To each his own.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Your English Grammer is very good!

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome, Anon. Just so you know: grammar. :)