English sentences containing the universal quantifiers each, every, and all are highly complex structures in view of the subtleties of their scope properties and resulting ambiguities. This study explored the acquisition of universal quantifier sentences as reflected in the performance of three diverse college-level student groups on a multipicture sentence interpretation task. The participant groups (hearing native speakers, deaf students, and second language learners of English) all exhibited fundamental knowledge of universal lexical, semantic, and syntactic properties that contribute to quantifier sentence interpretation. The native speakers outperformed the deaf and second language groups, whose performance was strikingly parallel. Performance patterns are explained in terms of the influences of derivational economy, including the option to restrict in situ indefinite noun phrases to singleton indefinites. The symmetry effect observed in child language studies was also observed among the college-aged participants in this study. It is explained in terms of a pragmatic challenge in managing contextual information that invokes an unexpected singleton indefinite interpretation. The results contribute to the understanding of sentence comprehension under conditions of restricted learner access to target language input and underscore the value of seeking correlates of theory-internal derivational economy in language acquisition and use.