Using "all" as a distributive | English Grammar | EF

Using "all" as a distributive

The distributive determiner all is used to talk about a whole group, with a special emphasis on the fact that nothing has been left out. All can be used as a distributive in several different patterns.

All can be used with uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns by itself. In this usage, it refers to the group as a concept rather than as individuals.

Examples
  • All cheese contains protein.
  • I like all dogs.
  • All children need affection.
  • This soap is for all purposes.

All can be used with uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns preceeded by the or a possessive adjective. In this case, the meaning is shifted towards referring to a concrete, physical group rather than the group as a concept. In these uses, the word of can be added just after all with no change in meaning.

Examples
  • All the people in the room were silent.
  • All of the birds flew away.
  • Have you eaten all the bread?
  • I will need all of the sugar.
  • I've invited all my friends to the party.
  • I've used up all of our eggs.
  • You wasted all your time.

All can be used with plural pronouns preceeded by of.

Examples
  • All of us are going.
  • He scolded all of you.
  • Did you find all of them?

All can be used in questions and exclamations with uncountable nouns preceeded by this or that. In these uses, the word of can be added just after all with no change in meaning.

Examples
  • Who has left all this paper on my desk?
  • Look at all this snow!
  • Why is all of that sugar on the floor?
  • Where did all of this confetti come from?

All can be used in questions and exclamations with countable nouns preceeded by these or those. In these uses, the word of can be added just after all with no change in meaning.

Examples
  • Look at all those balloons!
  • Where did all of those books come from?
  • Why are all these children crying?