Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

Standard English on its own can be very difficult to master, even for native speakers. There are so many rules and then there are even more exceptions to those rules. English idioms can be more confusing, especially when they get significantly detached from their respective origins.

One phrase that I see misused not uncommonly is “all in all,” with many people saying or writing “all and all” instead. The correct term has always been “all in all.” This roughly has the meaning of “with all things considered.” A similar phrase would be “all said.”

For example: The early mornings were difficult and my feet hurt after those long hikes, but all in all, the excursions into the Australian Outback were well worth the effort.

It may be common for people to use “all and all” in that sentence instead, but it is not the traditional phrase and it would be considered nonstandard usage. Hearing “all and all” doesn’t bother me nearly as much as “I could care less,” but it does irk me a little. Both of those phrases make logical sense, so they should be easier to remember than the countless contradictory idioms that are considered to be fairly standard usage.

English is a beautifully complex language, but this also means that you have to make sure you are using it correctly! All in all, I hope this post has been useful. Do you have any grammar questions you’d like clarified? Let me know through the comments below.