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I'm confused by the use of plural and singular when Every is use. Which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. Every business has its own unique set of challenges, resulting in a different approach even if they have the same goals.
  2. Every businesses have their own unique set of challenges, resulting in different approaches even if they have the same goals.
  • There is no such thing as *every businesses, so... – Michael Login Jun 23 at 17:15
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Every refers to individual items only, sometimes emphasized by saying, each and every. Every is not used with plurals or uncountable nouns, such as `water.

The word all refers to the totality, as in all businesses.

  • Thanks. Does the following make better sense? Each and every business has its own unique set of challenges, resulting in a different approach even if they have the same goals. – Jalene Jun 23 at 5:28
  • Problem: the antecedent of "they", plural, is "business", singular. Actually, it makes sense as written, and a casual speaker might say it that way, but it would be better using "each has the same goal." – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 23 at 6:50
  • Thank you! That sounds so much better! – Jalene Jun 23 at 10:52
  • @Jalene I prefer keeping they have the same goals. It sounds more natural to me, and I don't find the mixture of the singular first half with the plural second half to be jarring—it's something that's commonly done, so it's idiomatic. (In fact, using each has the same goal in the second half sounds awkward and unidiomatic to me—even if its not actually wrong.) If you wish, you could emphasize the plurality (and the localized correctness) in the second have with they all have the same goals. – Jason Bassford Jun 23 at 16:17
  • @JasonBassford, agreed, that is how people speak and would be appropriate in dialog, but if this is an academic exercise, or for a company publication that might be criticized, formal English is preferable. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 23 at 19:44

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