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which of the following sentences is the most common in English?

"all of the tasks were performed well." "all the tasks were performed well."

3 Answers 3

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You can find this sort of thing out by searching corpora like The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) or The British National Corpus (BNC). I searched for both strings in both corpora. Here's what I found:

                      COCA    BNC
  all of the tasks     8       1
  all the tasks        42      12 

So it seems that both phrases are used, but the shorter version is more common in both British and American English. Before regular noun phrases like the tasks, they seem to be roughly interchangeable.


This agrees with in Swan's Practical English Usage, point 36, in which he says either all or all of can be used. He notes, however, that before pronouns, all of is used. He gives the following examples:

All of us can come tomorrow.
She's invited all of you.

Note that the accusative form us is used, not the nominative we.

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This is a job for Ngrams.

Both sentences are grammatically correct and semantically equivalent, but all the tasks is more common.

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  • 1
    By the way, n-gram is a general term, and n-grams exist outside Google Books Ngram Viewer. For this reason, I personally choose not to refer to their graphing tool as "Ngrams".
    – user230
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 6:06
  • Good point, @snailplane. I tend to call things by their product name - Ngrams, in this case - but you're absolutely right that this can cause confusion or semantic shift in the language; e.g. tissue / Kleenex. Commented May 24, 2014 at 6:21
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Both are okay but... GrammarMonster describes it.

All of the tasks were performed well - is not preferred. Because tasks is not a pronoun.

Very basic rule says that we generally use all of when the next word is a pronoun. For instance...

All of 'you', all of 'us'

For normal nouns, we generally use just all.

All the 'surgeons', all the 'soldiers', all the 'tasks' and so on.

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  • am amazed with quick votes ;)
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 12:57
  • I didn't downvote, but now I know why they say, "Don't believe things you read on the Internet." Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:01
  • Thanks for the answer. But, in this site there are other reasons: grammar-quizzes.com/article4d.html would you please take a look. Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:02
  • @DamkerngT. OALD, Collins, British Council and GrammarMonster are on the internet. Not sure what to believe now when people start downvoting sources from the reputed sites exclusively made for grammar. :)
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:02
  • "All of the tasks were performed well" is just fine.
    – user230
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:06

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