[A] We interviewed each individual member of the community. (OALD)

For they have this meaning for ‘each’: “used to refer to every one of two or more people or things” in OALD, isn’t it proper to write [B] “~each individual members of the community~” instead of the above clause? If there isn’t the typo, can we use either singular or plural after each, for each means the individual members of a set”(CGEL, p.378)? If it’s possible, how about their meaning difference?

If your answer is we can’t use the plural of [B] grammatically, what about this?:

[C] to tell two or more people who have not met before what each other's names are (OALD)

For [C], other's names is the set, so it ought to be plural; but for [A] the community is the set, so we can't use plural form of members that is not part of the set?

  • Personally, I don't think [B] is possible. As for [C], I think it's 'each other's names', not 'each other's names'. Each other refers to the two or more people.
    – user1513
    May 7, 2014 at 5:36

3 Answers 3


Each refers to every single member of a set individually, as opposed to all, which refers to all members of a set together. So the usage is as follows:

I gave an apple to each child in the class.
I gave an apple to all children in the class.

As for your last sentence:

to tell two or more people who have not met before what each other's names are

There are several names (two or more) belonging to the people (plural) that get introduced. Here, each is not used on its own, but together with other. I agree with Fantasier that you could well use the singular here:

They got to know each other's name.
They got to know each other's names.

They sound both OK to me, but the difference is in how you parse the sentence: do you read it as:

They got to know the name of each other person. Each [other's name]
They got to know the names of the other people. _[Each other's] names


Simply put, I think [C] is a typo. You don't use plurals with each as a pronoun. [C] should read "each others' names are" or "each other's name is". "Each" is a singular pronoun but you'll see it used as an adverb as well, which will show plural verbs: "We were allowed two tries each." That's from M-W (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/each).

For a more esoteric explanation of "each" as a quantifier, see: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/116662/each-pronoun-or-adverb


If a speaker or author wants to use each with a plural noun there is a way

We interviewed each of the community members

  • ... each of the 46 member countries of the Council of Europe were...
  • Each of my aunts have two children
  • He saw each of the boys once a week

Here the word each is being used a pronoun, not as a determiner. Each in the above examples stands for "every one individually" i.e. every individual member; every individual aunt; every individual boy.


When the pronoun is followed by an of phrase containing a plural noun or pronoun, there is a tendency for the verb to be plural: Each of the candidates has(or have) spoken on the issue.
Some usage guides maintain that only the singular verb is correct, but plural verbs occur frequently even in edited writing.

It is also sometimes said that the pronoun each must always be referred to by a singular pronoun, but again actual usage does not regularly observe this structure:

  • Each member of our garden club had their own special interests.

In the most formal speech and writing, singular verbs and pronouns occur more frequently than plural:

  • Each member … had his own special interests.

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