Does the word each use a plural or singular verb? That’s the question we answer this week with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.
Each time I’m confronted with the word “each” or a phrase that includes “each,” I find myself stalling out and wondering if I’m using the correct verb with it. On the surface level, it seems like a no-brainer that in each example I would use a singular verb, but then I’ll run into one that seems to go the other way.
So let’s look at the word each and whether we each should use plural or singular verbs when each appears.
Does Each Use a Plural or Singular Verb?
Before we can figure out its verb, we have to understand what each is. The word “each” can be used as an adjective, adverb, or pronoun. As a pronoun, each is considered singular, so it is traditionally paired with singular verbs.
For instance, “each of the athletes” may indicate multiple athletes in the phrase, but “each” is a singular occurrence of those athletes. As such, this phrase would be followed by a singular verb like “cares.”
Example: Each of the athletes cares about nutrition.
When used as an adjective before the noun, the word “each” always describes a singular noun. For instance, “each book” would be a proper combination of “each,” the singular adjective, with “book,” the singular noun, and “each book” would naturally pair with a singular verb like “looks.”
Example: Each book looks incredible.
So it appears that each instance of each should indicate a singular verb, right? But hold on, because there is an exception, because sometimes “each” is used after a plural noun/pronoun like “they each.” In these cases, the verb is plural.
Example: Each of the athletes cares about nutrition. They each eat a healthy diet.
In most cases, each leads to a singular verb, but that’s not true in all situations. They each need to be considered individually.
No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.