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How to Use Distributives – All and Half - for English

The English Language

The Explanation

Distributive determiners such as Each, Every, Either, All, Half, etc are used to refer to a group of people or things, and to individual members of the group. They show different ways of looking at the individuals within a group, and they express how something is distributed, divided, or shared.

Here, we are specifically going to discuss two distributives ‘All’ and ‘half’.

How to use the distributives ‘All’ and ‘half’

These two distributives ‘All’ and ‘half’ are used to describe the quantity of a group and the way it is shared or divided.

Uses of distributive ‘All’

  1. “All” is used to describe the complete number of the group. It also shows that nothing has been left out or excluded from the group.


  • All the members of the group came this week.

  1. The distributive “all” can be used with both countable and non-countable nouns and in a few different ways as well. The use of ‘all’ with an uncountable noun shows that we are referring to the group or concept in general.


  • All love in the world is valuable- In this example, the distributive ‘all’ uses an uncountable noun to describe a general statement about it

  • All children deserve to be educated- In this example, a plural noun, “children” is used to make a general statement

  1. The distributive “all” can also be used with the plurals, followed by “the” to describe a specific group, rather than a general group.


  • All the books were sold

4. The distributive ‘all’ can also be used to talk about a specific group of with a plural noun, by following “all” with “of the”.


  • All of the girls were tired by the end of the show

The distributive ‘Half’ is much straightforward and simpler in usage. It generally means that we are referring to a part of the group/things when it is divided into two parts.

1. We can use “half” to refer to the measurements, by following it directly with an indefinite article and a noun. This does not describe any specific noun, but a general object or person.


  • Please use half a lemon in each dish

2. Similar to distributive ‘all’, we can use “half” followed by “the” and “of the” to describe specific groups of nouns.


  • Half the boys were absent from the class

  • Half of the milkshake was over

  • I bought half a kilo of Oranges yesterday.

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