Is “Everyone” Singular or Plural?

crowd of people on a beach

Photo by Micaela Parente on Unsplash

When considering the word everyone, it makes sense to think of many people in a group. The natural conclusion then is to believe everyone is plural. It’s not. Everyone is singular.

One way to think about it is that everyone refers to each individual in a group.

Take this example:

Everyone who is attending the Ice Creams of the World festival likes ice cream.

It would be odd for a person who loathes ice cream to go to a festival celebrating that dessert, so it’s safe to say each individual person in that group enjoys it.

Because everyone is singular, it takes a singular verb. Look again at our example sentence above. The verb in it is “likes,” which is singular and would be used with singular pronouns, such as “he” and “she.”

Here are more examples:

Everyone dances uniformly in ballet class.
Everyone under five eats free.
Everyone needs to file the form in triplicate.

Each sentence has a singular verb because everyone is a singular pronoun.

Erin Servais is a book editor with ten years of experience in publishing. Contact her to learn how she can help you with your next project: www.dotanddashllc.com

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Word Nerd Wednesday

Happy hump day. Here’s part two of Grammar Party’s Word Nerd Wednesday series, where I lovingly compile and share some of the most interesting language-related tidbits floating around the interwebs.

Tattoos inspired by books at tattoolit: http://tattoolit.com/

Does using pronouns in your writing improve your health? The complete interview from PBS NewsHour: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/08/the-secret-language-code.html

An endangered word list from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/21/endangered-words-collins-dictionary

Using maps to show where “Imma” and “Gonna” are being tweeted. From For the Love of Linguistics: http://languagelyceum.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/putting-ima-on-the-map/

Make your own book weight with this tutorial from Life Hacker:
http://lifehacker.com/5833754/make-your-own-super+cheap-book-weight-out-of-duct-tape-and-pennies

A post about words with no letters from Sentence First: http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/do-you-%E2%99%A5-words-with-no-letters/

Backlash against grammar sticklers from You Don’t Say: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/2011/08/you_are_not_the_drum_major.html 

A personal view of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary’s one hundredth anniversary from Language Log (seriously heartwarming): http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3373

A word quiz celebrating the Concise Oxford English Dictionary’s anniversary from the OED blog: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/08/concise-quiz/