"All" or "All Of"?

by Craig Shrives

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Using "All Of" and "All"

Here is some guidance on whether to use "all of" or just "all."

All Of

Use "all of" before words like "us," "you," "it," "him," and "her." (These are called personal pronouns.) For example:
  • All of us know the secret.
  • All of them think they're special.
  • All of you are welcome.
Use "all of" before words like "which," "whom," and "whose." (These are called relative pronouns.) For example:
  • I know 4 Italians, all of whom think they're great singers.
  • She has 3 dogs, all of which greet her when she gets home.

All

Use "all" before words like "the," "this," "my." (These are types of determiner). For example:
  • Where has all the cheese gone?
  • All these soldiers are field medics.
  • I have known her all my life.
Use "all" before nouns that are not preceded with a determiner. For example:
  • Joan said that all women were odd.
  • All students are invited to the job market.
  • All life has vanished from the reef.
all or all of?

The Grammar of "All"

"All" As a Determiner before a Noun

When used by itself before a noun, "all" is classified as a determiner. For example:
  • all men
  • all folk
When used like this, "all of" is not an option.

"All" As a Predeterminer

When "all" is used before a determiner (e.g., "the," "this," "his"), it is classified as a predeterminer. For example:
  • all the students
  • all my time
When used like this, "all of" is usually an option too. However, "all" is preferable to using "all of" because it saves a word. Nevertheless, if you cannot bear how "all" by itself sounds, you can use "of all."
  • all of the students
  • all of my time

"All" As a Determiner before a Pronoun

Using "all" as a determiner before a personal pronoun is usually wrong. For example:
  • all we
  • all they
Look at these fuller examples:
  • All we believe.
  • (This sentence is correct, but native English speakers would interpret this as "everything we believe" and not "everybody believes.")
  • All they are thinking.
  • (This sentence is correct, but native English speakers would interpret this as "everything they are thinking" and not "they all are thinking.")

The Grammar of "All Of"

"All" As an Indefinite Pronoun before a Determiner

The "all" in "all of" is classified as an indefinite pronoun. It is perfectly acceptable to use "all of" before a determiner. For example:
  • all of the men
  • all of those students
  • all of the men
  • all of his issues
Using "all" saves a word. Therefore, it is preferred to "all of."

"All" As an Indefinite Pronoun before a Personal Pronoun

Use "all of" before a personal pronoun. For example:
  • All of us believe.
  • All of them are thinking.
Note that the personal pronouns are in the objective case. (This just means that "we" has become "us" and "they" has become "them.")

"All" As an Indefinite Pronoun before a Relative Pronoun

Use "all of" with relative pronouns (e.g., "whom," "which"). For example:
  • I have three sisters, all of whom lead very normal lives. (Politician Jane Byrne)
  • He trained over 20 mares, all of which won more prize money in their first season than they cost.

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See Also

Using All Right or Alright Take a test on All and All Of What are pronouns? What are indefinite adjectives? What are indefinite pronouns?

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