Grammar Everything or Every Thing: What’s the Difference? |
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Everything or Every Thing: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been scouring the internet to find the meaning of everything (the word, not life in general), this might be the post you’ve been searching for. That’s because everything co-exists with every thing, and as a precise and eloquent writer, you want to know the difference. Do the two versions have separate meanings, and is one correct over the other? Let’s discuss that and answer it for you.

The Meaning of Everything

We’ll start with the basics: The word everything refers to multiple items as a single entity or collective. For example, you might say or write any of the following:

Did you get everything at the store?
(everything = all the items on a list)

I did everything I could to get here on time.
(everything = every effort, including all travel or time-saving options)

With everything that has been going on, it’s a miracle Sue still does so well at her job.
(everything = a collection of personal or professional distractions)

Most writers know and understand this word. The confusion comes in when it’s broken into two different words, every thing.

The Difference Between Everything and Every Thing

There is some debate about whether the two-word version is even a valid spelling. Some editors will put forth that while everything (one word) identifies a group that constitutes a collective whole, every thing (two words) should be used when you want to emphasize the singular items in a group.

Consider the following:

He put everything on the table. Now he wants to inspect every thing separately.

While you recognize the distinction between the references, you might also see how they can create ambiguity of interpretation and even debate about usage. An optimal approach may be to settle on your own preference of everything or every single thing, which adds a word to be clearer. Some writers may decide to stick mainly with the shorter version and perhaps alternate between the two on occasion.


I’m going to eat a bit of everything this Thanksgiving.

Fred was amazed by every single thing on the Thanksgiving table.

This illustrates how adding the word “single” swiftly settles the debate and confusion concerning everything and every thing.

If you’re still looking for a more definitive answer, your best bet is to stick to the one-word version of everything. It’s by far the most common and accepted usage, and it also tends to be more clear and direct. While writing every thing might not technically be incorrect, it could be distracting for readers and considered a typo by reviewers.

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