Deeper Dive: Every

Word Story Text

What’s there to say about every?
Well, I just said it. That it’s pronounced “evry”.
It’s two syllables even though it looks like three.

The second E is silent. It could have been spelled EVRY.

Every is a very high frequency word for children. In thinking about how to teach this word, we should think about our goals. We want children to be able to connect the spelling of a word with the way it is pronounced. In the beginning they read words aloud. With additional skill, they are able to generate a mental, phonological code that doesn’t require overt speech.

Whether overt speech or mental phonology, the code the reader produces has to match the one they know from oral language. If it does, they can access everything they already know about the word from speaking and listening.

For this to work, phonics instruction has to take into account how words are actually pronounced. Earlier in the history of English, the word every was related to EVER and there was greater overlap in their pronunciations. In American English, the pronunciation and meaning of every changed over time, moving it farther away from EVER. (It’s still three syllables in many dialects of British English.)

In teaching the word, we don’t want to group every with EVER or other seemingly close neighbors like NEVER.

Because there’s no “ever” in “ev-ry”.

every can be taught with neighbors such as EVERYONE EVERYTHING EVERYBODY. Learning each word helps support the other words.

Now here is a fun fact. We do sometimes pronounce every with three syllables, though it’s very rare. It’s done for emphasis. It changes the meaning in a subtle way. “He missees that shot EV-ER-Y time.” “EVERYONE already knows that”.

The emphasis works precisely because it’s NOT the usual pronunciation.

So teach EV-RY.


"For Every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” H.L. Mencken

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising Every time we fall.” Confucius

"In Every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir


Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you.

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you.

I’ll Be Watching You by The Police

Each and every

Every other

Lift every voice and sing

Every inch

Every time

Every last

Every penny

At every turn

Every adjective or adjective prnoun [OE. everich, everilk; AS. ǣfre ever + ælc each. See Ever, each.]

1. All the parts which compose a whole collection or aggregate number, considered in their individuality, all taken separately one by one, out of an indefinite number.
Every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Ps. xxxix. 5.

Every door and window was adorned with wreaths of flowers. Macaulay.
2. Every one. Cf. Each. [Obs.] “
Every of your wishes.” Shak.

Daily occasions given to Every of us. Hooker.
Every each
Every one [Obs.]

Every each of them hath some vices.” Burton.
Every now and then
at short intervals; occasionally; repeatedly; frequently. [Colloq.]
Every may, by way of emphasis, precede the article the with a superlative adjective; as, Every , the least variation. Locke.Syn.

Every , Each, Any. Any denotes one, or some, taken indifferently from the individuals which compose a class. Every differs from each in giving less prominence to the selection of the individual. Each relates to two or more individuals of a class. It refers definitely to Every one of them, denoting that they are considered separately, one by one, all being included; as, each soldier was receiving a dollar per day. Every relates to more than two and brings into greater prominence the notion that not one of all considered is excepted; as, Every soldier was on service, except the cavalry, that is, all the soldiers, etc.
In each division there were four pentecosties, in Every pentecosty four enomoties, and of each enomoty there fought in the front rank four [soldiers]. Jowett (Thucyd)

If society is to be kept together and the children of Adam to be saved from setting up each for himself with Every one else his foe. J. H. Newman.

-- Webster's unabridged 1913

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