Alle vs. AllesWhat's the difference?

Sometimes we hear beginners ask about the difference between alle & alles in German. Telling the difference can be especially tricky when it looks like the two words could be swapped out for one another.

The sentence "Er hat alles gehört" looks dangerously similar to "Er hat alle gehört".

However, alle and alles aren't interchangable - you cannot swap them out! They have different meanings and these two sentences mean very different things.

When you're re tackling German stories, or are doing more general German reading, this difference can be pretty important. Let's find out what it is!

What's the difference between alle & alles?

💡Quick Answer

Alles means everything, but alle means every or all. An easy rule to remember is this: When you want to use alle, you need to be able to count the items. Whenever you would use "everything" in English, you'd say alles in German. Whenever you would use "all" in English, you'd say alle in German.

The difference between alle & alles in German is very similar to the difference between "all" and "everything" in English: Whenever you would use "everything" in English, you'd say alles in German.

With this in mind, let's have another look at the two example sentences mentioned in the introduction:

Er hat alles gehört.

Alles means "everything", so this sentence means "He has heard everything". He has heard everything that was said.

Now onto the second example sentence:

Er hat alle gehört.

This means "He has heard all (of them)" or "He has heard everyone". As you can see, this has an entirely different meaning.

And this is already it! Let's end this blog post with some examples sentences for both words.

Example Sentences with alles

Here are some example sentences using alles:

Das ist alles der gleiche Preis.

That is all the same price.
Ich habe gestern alles geputzt.

I cleaned everything yesterday.
Bezahlst du alles auf einmal?

Are you paying for everything all at once?

Example Sentences with alle

And, lastly, some more examples sentences using alle:

Haben alle Getränke den gleichen Preis?

Do all drinks have the same price?
Ich habe gestern alle Zimmer geputzt.

I cleaned all rooms yesterday.
Bezahlst du alle Rechnungen auf einmal?

Are you paying all bills at once?