“not every…is” or “every … is not”?

Which way is correct to say this:

  • but not every classifier is capable of …
  • but every classifier is not capable of …

I want to emphasis that just some classifiers are capable of doing something not all of them (many of them are capable but not all of them).


I have a sense that "every X is not Y" tends to be avoided by North American speakers. It has an archaic or "Britishy" ring to it, and the meaning is the same as a "not every X is Y".

For instance, here is a quote from The parliamentary register; or, History of the proceedings and debates of the Houses of Lords and Commons dated 1800:

Every man is not gifted with the candour and spirit of the learned gentleman; — does he think it a country for an honest man to live in?

Of course, this means "not every man is gifted …".

Another very familiar example in the English-speaking culture is the adage:

All that glitters is not gold.

[Not all that glitters is gold: some things that glitter are not gold.]

The syntax of this saying right away alerts us that it is very old.


  1. not every X is Y clearly asserts: it is not true that for all X, X is Y.
  2. every X is not Y is either an archaic or British form which says the same thing as (1) or else a way of saying for all X, X is not Y.
  3. If the intended meaning is for all X, X is not Y, then the wording every X is not Y is a very awkward way to try to achieve that meaning, due to confusion with (2); a much clearer, more natural way to express this meaning is no X is Y.

For instance, a sentence like:

I tried to find a red marble in the jar, but, alas, every marble was not red.

is quite awkward, and better expressed like this:

I tried to find a red marble in the jar, but, alas, no marble was red.

Plus, of course, other possible endings: "there were no red marbles", "there was no such marble", and so on.

If there is some additional phrase or relative clause in "every X is not Y", then it can be acceptable. For instance "every marble that I looked at was not red". This wording tends to eliminate the ambiguity, and is more acceptable, though still inferior to "no marble that I looked at was red".

Source : Link , Question Author : mohsen kamrani , Answer Author : Kaz

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