While I was preparing a test paper for my students, I came across a reference where the fill in the blank read:

Although a variety of therapeutic interventions are available for this condition, none of them are specific or long-lasting, and they __________________ cause side effects, which decrease adherence to treatment.

Options were:

can all/all can/all-can/can-all

Obviously, the last two are out, and I selected 'all can'. To my great surprise, the answer is 'can all'.

Enlighten me please.

2 Answers 2


....they can all/they all can......

You can use either "can all" or "all can" after the subject "they".

Grammatically, when "all" refers to the subject of a clause, we usually use it in the normal mid position (between the subject and the main verb, or after the modal verb, or after "be" as main verb).

The use of the all in front of a modal verb is far less common and idiomatic. So it's more grammatically appropriate to use the all after the modal "can" in the sentence presented.


AFAIAA native speakers would say can all rather than all can and not just in that context.

We'll most likely say all can when responding to a question:

Which of these drugs can cause side effects?
They all can!

I'd say it's just how we English roll, but this answer describes it as quantifier floating. Just linking rather than quoting because it's rather long(!).

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