A distributive pronoun considers members of a group separately, rather than collectively.
They include each, any, either, neither and others.
- "to each his own" — 'each2,(pronoun)' Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (2007)
- "Men take each other's measure when they react." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Each went his own way (each used as a pronoun, without an accompanying noun)
- Each man went his own way (each used as a determiner, accompanying the noun man)
Languages other than English
A common distributive idiom in Biblical Hebrew used an ordinary word for man, 'ish (איש). Brown Driver Briggs only provides four representative examples — Gn 9:5; 10:5; 40:5; Ex 12:3. Of the many other examples of the idiom in the Hebrew Bible, the best known is a common phrase used to describe everyone returning to their own homes. It is found in 1 Samuel 10:25 among other places.
- איש לביתו
- ... 'ish l'beyto.
- ... a man to his house. [literal]
- ... each went home. [sense]
This word, 'ish, was often used to distinguish men from women. "She shall be called Woman (אשה) because she was taken out of Man (איש)," is well known, but the distinction is also clear in Gn 19:8; 24:16 and 38:25 (see note for further references). However, it could also be used generically in this distributive idiom (Jb 42:11; I Ch 16:3).
The most common distributive pronoun in classical Greek was hekastos (ἕκαστος, each).
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- Jeffrey T. Runner and Elsi Kaiser. 'Binding in Picture Noun Phrases: Implications for Binding Theory'. In Proceedings of the HPSG05 Conference. Edited by Stefan Müller. Lisbon: CSLI Publications, 2005.
- Glossary of English Grammar Terms UsingEnglish.com