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Not sure about when to use 'all' or 'whole'? Do you find all of English difficult, or is it just the whole language? This grammar lesson will help you avoid an extremely common mistake that many students make. See if you get all of the questions right on my quiz at

Hi again. Adam here. I have another lesson for you today. This is actually a request by Feresque -- Feresser? I hope I'm saying it right. Sorry about that. It was in the comments section of Please leave questions and comments and requests and we'll do our best to get them for you. So the request was: the difference between "all" and "whole". Now, the reason I also chose this lesson is because this is a very common mistake that students make. They mix these two up all the time. They have very specific roles in situations. We're going to look at them today. 

The first and most important thing to remember about "all" versus "whole" is where to put the definite article "the". So it's always "all the" whatever you're talking about, "the whole" whatever you're talking about, so always "the" after "all", "the" before "whole". Now, they sound a little bit similar, "all", "whole", but not. Right? So be careful about pronunciation. Sometimes people might think you're mixing them up just because of pronunciation: "all", "whole". Make sure you get that "H" sound and that "O" sound together.

Now, what's the difference between "all" and "whole"? "All", you're talking about "everything". Whatever it is you're talking about, you're talking about all of it, basically: everything, one, etc. When you're talking about "whole", you're talking about a "complete" something: a complete package, a complete group, a complete container of something, right? Whatever it is you're talking about, it has to be complete, right? It has pieces inside, and then the whole is the complete collection of whatever it is you're talking about, whereas "all" is just everything that's involved with that noun, etc. So I'm going to give you a very quick example: You're sitting -- your friend went on a trip out of town. He had to take the bus for two hours to his friend's house in Montreal, let's say. He comes back. You ask him "How was the trip?", and he goes, "Oh, my God, there was a baby on the bus, and the baby cried all the time." But if he said, "The baby cried the whole time", do you think that it's a different meaning? Usually people will understand the same thing, but technically, "all the time" doesn't mean two hours crying. It means "cried, stopped, cried, stopped, cried, stopped." It seemed like he was crying throughout the trip, okay? But if somebody said, "The baby cried the whole time", I understand "two hours, baby crying, wah, wah, wah, two hours." It could drive a person crazy. "All the time" -- he cried enough times that it seemed like a long time. "The whole time" means for two hours straight, non-stop. Okay. So that's a big difference between "all" and "whole", okay? "The whole time", I'm talking about the specific duration, the complete journey, two hours. "All the time" -- always: always crying, stopping. Always crying, stopping, crying, stopping, crying, stopping. Not very much fun. But, "I studied all day" -- I have a test tomorrow; I studied all day. "I studied the whole day." In this case, I would understand the exact same thing as well. You can switch these two. But "all day" means, "I studied. I took a break. I studied. I didn't do anything else -- only studied today." But "I studied the whole day" means "I sat at my desk, and I studied; I didn't stop." So that's one of the big differences between "all" and "whole". "Whole" we're talking about time, non-stop, continuous. "All" means in that day, many times, and that's basically -- you did -- that's the one activity that you did, okay? So this is one aspect of "all" and "whole". "The" and duration, like, "always" and the "complete" time of whatever it is you're talking about. We're going to look at a couple of other differences that are very important that you need to keep in mind. 

Okay, so now we're going to look at a few other differences that are sometimes very small but important. So let's look at the two examples here first: "All my friends came." "My whole group of friends came." What do you notice first about the differences between these two? One, the possessive adjective -- my, his, your, etc. -- with "all" comes after "all" -- comes before "whole": "My whole group of friends came." So I can say "all my friends", all individual friends, right? But remember what I said about "whole". "Whole" means something complete, a complete package of something. So I have "group of friends" came. The meaning is more or less the same, okay? But here I talk about the group; here I talk about the individuals. Very important to remember. But most important -- possessive, after "all", before "whole", okay? That's one.

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