Inti qieghed hawn: Grammar > Pronouns > Elk & ieder (each & every)

Elk & ieder (each & every)
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Tradott mill-Ingliz minn ...

There is no clear difference between elk and ieder (each and every). They are practically interchangeable. There is, however, a tendency to use:

  • ieder for persons
  • elk for things
  • elk when we are talking about a small group of people or things
Dutch Application English
elk singular each
ieder singular every

Elk(e) and ieder(e) before a noun

When we place elk or ieder before a noun (e.g. elke keer, 'each time'), we have to inflect it according to the gender of the noun. Before neuter nouns (het-words), we say elk or ieder. Before de-nouns, we have to add -e: elke and iedere.

We only use elk(e) and ieder(e) before singular nouns.

Inflection Before what type of noun?
elk / ieder het-nouns
elke / iedere de-nouns

The example below illustrate how elk and ieder are inflected according to the nouns they precede.

[de dag]
Ik fiets elke dag naar mijn werk.
[the day]
I cycle to work every day.
[het bibliotheekboek]
Elk bibliotheekboek heeft een unieke code.
[the library book]
Each library book has a unique code.
[de deelnemer]
Iedere deelnemer ontvangt een officieel attest.
[the participant]
Every participant will receive an official certificate.
[het meisje]
Op Valentijnsdag stuurt hij ieder meisje in zijn klas een kaart.
[the girl]
On Valentine's Day, he sends a postcard to every girl in his class.

Elk van en ieder van

Elk and ieder are rarely used independenty. If they are, they usually take the form elk van or ieder van (each of, every one of).

Recall that elk and ieder are singular pronouns.

Ieder van hen moest zich legitimeren. Every one of them had to identify himself.
Ik heb het met elk van jullie besproken. I discussed it with each of you.

We generally use elk when we the group we refer to is relatively small. That is why you will not often hear "ieder van mijn vier collega's".

Independent elk and ieder

We find independent elk and ieder in a few fixed expressions:

Ieder voor zich. "Each for oneself."
[Each has to decide for oneself or has to serve one's own interests].
Voor elk (or ieder) wat wils. Something to each person's liking.

Predicative elk and ieder

Elk and ieder can also occur somewhere* after the noun they refer to. If they do, they provide us with some extra information, which is not essential. This information could be omitted.

De boeken hebben elk een unieke code. The books each have a unique code.

The pronoun serves to stress that by 'the books', we mean 'each individual book' . Without 'each', we could think that we only have one unique code for all books together.

De schilderijen hebben elk € 20.000 gekost. The paintings costed € 20,000 each.
De leerlingen hadden ieder een gedicht geschreven. The students each wrote a poem.

Without the pronouns, it could seem as if the paintings were bought for a total of € 20,000 together and that the students collectively wrote one poem.

Of course, we could also simply write: "Elk schilderij heeft € 20.000 gekost" and "Iedere leerling had een gedicht geschreven."

(*) For the exact position in a sentence, see word order: miscellaneous box?.


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L-ahhar aggornament June 28, 2008 ::