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After the possessive pronouns, can we use “each” or “every”? For example, are all four of the sentences below grammatically correct?

  • My each attempt was useless.

  • My every attempt was useless.

  • Take your each step carefully.

  • Take your every step carefully.

Please keep in mind that I am not asking if “each” and “every” are interchangeable in those sentences. I am just wondering if both usages are grammatical. I am asking about it here because I couldn’t find any information in dictionaries.

2 Answers 2

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Only one of your usages is likely to be used among native speakers:

My every attempt was useless.

Take your every step carefully.

Note that the nouns are in singular form (attempt, step). This is because you are referring to multiple things considered as one.

Also note that having the possessive pronoun first (e.g. my every, your every) is rather old-fashioned and formal, and people today are much more likely to say or write 'Every one of my attempts was...' or 'Take every one of your steps...'

Although both 'every' and 'each' refer to something that is singular, 'each' refers to an individual object or person, while 'every' refers to a group of objects or people considered together as one.

To use 'each' correctly, your erroneous sentences could be rewritten as:

Each of my attempts was useless.

Take each of your steps carefully.

Note that the nouns are in plural form (attempts, steps). This is because you are referring to multiple things considered separately.

Each versus every

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  • Given that forms like his each and every move are perfectly common, I don't think you can say [possessive] + each + [noun] is inherently "ungrammatical" if it doesn't include and every. I'd say OP's "each" versions are perfectly grammatical - they're just not very idiomatic. Apr 11 at 12:24
  • Who says 'my each [anything]'? Apr 11 at 12:34
  • Not that many people! That's why I said it's "non-idiomatic". But there are actually quite a few contextually relevant written instances of, say, my each move... in Google Books, and I certainly wouldn't want to say all those writers are incompetent. Apr 11 at 13:04
  • ...my reason for flagging this up is that if I'm right, there's no way to "explain" to an NNS learner why two of OPs four examples are "avoided" by native speakers on syntactic grounds. In which case it's important they should be made aware that there's not really any reason other than "established custom and practice" here (so they shouldn't waste time trying to identify any underlying principle; it's just one of those things that has to be learnt by rote). Whatever - given your recent edit, I've upvoted the answer. I think these comments are potentially useful though. Apr 11 at 13:12
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My each attempt was useless. is not idiomatic. We would say:

Every one of my attempts.
Each one of or Each of my attempts.
Every attempt by me.

Generally, we place the possessive pronoun with the word attempt or other noun and "my" and "each" do not collocate in English. "Each of my attempts was carefully planned".

My every attempt was futile. is very grammatical but less usual.
**Every step of his or Each step of his was poorly executed. is more usual than "His every step was poorly executed". Using [possessive pronoun] every + a noun is more often seen in writing.

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