All vs. All Of

I got a question from the Peanut Gallery. Joe “HHBL” in Houston asks:
Should it be “… known each other all of their lives” or “… known each other all their lives”?

There are a few general Rules of Thumb for this topic:

Rule #:1
If the next phrase is a singular noun, especially if it describes a quantity, keep the word “of.”

Examples:
All of the candy
All of the Girl Scout cookies
All of the ice cream

Rule #2:
If the next phrase is a plural noun, don’t use the word “of.”

Examples:
All the lonely people! Where DO they all come from?
Where have all the flowers gone?

Rule #3:
If the next word is a subject or object pronoun, keep the word “of.”

Examples:
All of you
All of it
All of us

Rule #4:
If the next word is a possessive pronoun, don’t use the word “of.”

Examples:
All my trials
All his accomplishments

In Joe’s case, Rule #4 applies, so “all their lives” would work.
He could also say “… known each other their whole lives” or “their entire lives.”

————————————–
Profound Quote of the Day:

“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
– Henry David Thoreau, American Author, 1817-1862
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