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The people all wanted a new leader.

In the above example, what is the grammatical function of all? Is it an inversion of 'all of the people' or 'all the people'? Or is it something else entirely?

I have noticed various ambiguous constructions like these, most of which involve a quantifier (e.g. all, both, each, etc.).

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  • Please limit yourself to one question at a time. If you want to know about "both", then ask a separate question.
    – gotube
    Oct 1, 2021 at 22:52
  • 1
    I have removed the additional question.
    – MJ Ada
    Oct 4, 2021 at 18:44

1 Answer 1

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Good question. This is tricky.

  • There is a construction "both X and Y"/"either X or Y"/"neither X nor Y" which emphasizes that there are two things being coordinated. (There is no corresponding "all X, Y, and Z" construction.)

  • "All" and "both" can precede the definite article, in which case they are called predeterminers: "all the people".

  • "All", "both", "each", "(n)either", "many", "few", "much", etc. can head partitive constructions: "all of the people".

  • "All", "both", and "each" can appear in a clause in some positions following the noun phrase they refer to: "the people all were hungry", "the people were all hungry". These are called floating quantifiers. According to CGEL, these are adverbial modifiers in the clause, rather than part of the noun phrase.

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