4

Here are 2 examples that I think both make sense. I am confused about them.

It is not waterproof. That is everything that is bad about it.

It is not waterproof. That is the only thing that is bad about it.

I think 'every' makes sense in this case because it covers all of the things that are bad about it, which is one. In other words, it is like

That is everything; that is it.

Which is correct? Do they have different meanings? When should I use one or the other? Any help would be appreciated.

4
  • Can you share your reasons why you think everything might be acceptable? Have you found a definition of everything that seems like it might work to refer to a single item? Note that every thing is not exactly the same as everything.
    – Adam
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:22
  • It sounds sensible to me too @Adam. Hmm, is this a common "learner confusion"?
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:45
  • @MARamezani - Are you saying my comment is sensible, or his question, or something else?
    – Adam
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:55
  • I meant it. That it in the question. :) I meant the OP's first statement which s\he considers plausible while a native doesn't. (The one with *everything, and this is a pun)
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 4, 2015 at 20:09

1 Answer 1

4
  • It is not waterproof. That is the only thing that is bad about it.

This is the most natural sounding phrase. There is only one thing that is bad about it. You state the bad thing, and reiterate that it stands alone as being a fault.

  • It is not waterproof. That is everything that is bad about it.

Everything means all of the things of a group - it refers to the collection, and the collection normally has more than one item within it. While it isn't horribly wrong, and would be understood, I would not use this.

  • Every thing vs. everything

Every thing highlights each of the things as it's own entity, rather than as a collective. Imagine if I said Make sure every thing is put away. I am acknowledging that different things have different repositories, and asking for the listener to exercise care that each item is treated with care. 999 of the 1000 items being stowed, is NOT every thing.

Contrast with Make sure everything is put away. Now I am not focusing on these objects as separate things. As a collection, I want them put where they go. And if I put away 48 of the 50 things that were out, I might be OK saying I put away everything.

I can picture a circumstance where I would use every thing in your phrase.

A: Tell me everything that is wrong with this backpack.

B: It isn't waterproof.

A: I asked you to tell me everything that is wrong with it.

B: "That is every thing."


That is everything I have to say about this.

1
  • I guess that wasn't every thing: I would use "wrong with" rather than "bad about." It is not waterproof. That is the only thing wrong with it.
    – Adam
    Feb 4, 2015 at 21:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .