“Each of Them Is” or “Are”?

Summary

Use “each of” with singular verbs to refer to every individual in a group separately: each of them is, not are. Each refers to everyone in the group individually, not all of them together.

Examples
  • Each of them is ready.
  • Each of the stories is written by a different author.
  • Each of you has a chance to win the grand prize.
  • Each of us gets a turn.

“Each of” may be followed by a singular verb but a plural, gender-neutral pronoun (their, them).

Example
  • Each of them has their own ideas about how to solve this.
    Better than “Each of them has his or her own ideas.”

In informal and spoken English, “each of” is sometimes used with a plural verb to refer to multiple people or things.

Example
  • Each of those are coordinated from developing the basic science.
    — “Donald Wyse Is Growing a New Future for Farming,” New York Times (May 3, 2022)

In formal writing, prefer to use “each of” with singular verbs.

Example
  • Each of these is/are important.

The pronoun each

The pronoun each refers to every one of two or more people or things separately. It may be used by itself or with the preposition of.

Examples
  • Each is empty.
  • Each of the boxes is empty.
  • Each is invited.
  • Each of her friends is invited.

“Each of” is used before a plural noun phrase, which could be a plural determiner (like these, those), a plural pronoun (them, us), or a plural noun.

Examples
  • Each of these comes in its own box.
  • Each of us has something to hide.
  • Each of her books is a classic.

In this article, we discuss whether “each of” is followed by singular or plural verbs.

Each of: Singular or plural?

The pronoun each is singular. Although “each of” is followed by a plural noun, it still refers to every individual in a group and forms a singular subject. Use “each of” with a singular verb to refer to every one of a group individually.

Examples
  • Each of them is correct.
    The subject of this sentence is singular: “Each (of them).” Use it with a singular verb. (“Each (of them) is correct.”)
  • Each of you has a chance to win.
  • Each of us has the right to vote.
  • Each of them wants a piece of the pie.
  • Each of the board’s members has an MD in diagnostic medicine or surgery.
  • Each of these gems is real.
  • Each of the students wants a chance at the prize.

In informal and spoken English, “each of” is sometimes used with plural verbs to refer to multiple people or things.

Examples
  • Each of those are ‘unforgettable sounds of the nation’s history,’ the Library of Congress said on Wednesday.
    — “F.D.R. Speeches and Alicia Keys Album Added to National Recording Registry,” New York Times (Apr. 16, 2022)
  • They both make noises about how valuable a contribution we have made, but each of them are trying to pass the responsibility for a decision on a booster to each other.
    — “Novavax: Vaccine Volunteer ‘In Limbo’ over Booster Jab,” BBC News (Sep. 30, 2021)
  • Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
    Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

The use of the plural verb in the examples above is a result of notional agreement: the speaker is referring to more than one thing and therefore automatically uses the plural verb. Notional agreement often trumps grammatical agreement in everyday usage, and the use of “each of” with a plural verb generally passes without comment. Nevertheless, in edited texts, each, which is grammatically singular, is almost always used with singular verbs.

Caution

In formal writing (such as business and academic texts), use “each of” with singular verbs.

Example
  • Each of these articles is/are written by the same person.
Tip

Like “each of,” “one of” a group is singular.

Examples
  • One of them is/are the cookie thief.
  • One of us has/have to press the button.
  • One of the participants wants/want to quit the program.

Each followed by plural pronoun

Although each is singular and used with singular verbs, it may be followed by a gender-neutral, plural pronoun (their, them).

Examples
  • Each of the participants gets their own survival kit.
    Seen more often than “Each of the participants gets his or her own survival kit.”
  • Each of the writers has given their own twist to this fantasy world.
  • Each of the students must submit their application by noon.
Tip

Indefinite pronouns like each and someone are often followed by third-person plural pronouns (Someone has left their phone on the bus). Such usage is perfectly acceptable in both formal and informal contexts.

Each of . . . who/that . . . is or are?

When “each of” is followed by a relative pronoun like who or that, use a singular verb to describe “each” but a plural verb to refer to the plural noun phrase.

Example
  • Each of the students that have applied is being interviewed.
    Who has applied? The students have. Who is being interviewed? Each of them is.

There are two clauses in such sentences: the main clause (“each of the students is being interviewed”) and an embedded relative clause (“that have applied”). The subject of the relative clause is “that,” which refers to “the students” and is plural. Thus, the verb used in the relative clause is plural (“that has/have applied”). But the main clause still has a singular subject (“each”), and the verb used in the main clause should still be singular (“each of the students is/are being interviewed”).

Here are some more examples.

Examples
  • Each of the witnesses who have come forward has the same story.
    The witnesses have come forward. Each of them has the same story.
  • Each of the participants who have provided their contact details is being notified.
  • Each of her friends who live in the city has been invited.

Examples from published content

Here are some examples from literature and other published content that show how “each of” is generally used with singular verbs in edited prose.

Examples
  • To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for.
    Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  • Each of these persons is but wheels to the coach.
    Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
  • Each of the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven.
    Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.
    Albert Einstein, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2010)
  • Each of us holds in her lap a phantom.
    Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Usage guide

Use “each of” with singular verbs to refer to every one of two or more persons or things, separately (“Each of them is happy”). Although “each of” is used with singular verbs, it may be followed by a third-person plural pronoun like them or their (“Each of them has their own plans”). In informal usage, “each of” is sometimes used with plural verbs to refer to multiple people or things (“Each of these are now available on discount”). In formal writing, prefer to use “each of” with singular verbs (“Each of these is available on discount”).

Quick Quiz

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All done!
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All done!
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All done!

Did You Know?

No comma is needed between the month and the year in a date (e.g., May 1997).
Know more:Dates: How to Write Correctly