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    #1

    Smile Meaning of ''either''

    Hello everybody,


    I read in a dictionary that ''either'' also has the meaning of one and the other of two and not only one or the other of two.
    Examples:


    1) Yesterday, I met 2 girls at the bar. Both were wearing a nice dress.

    Can 'either' be used here to mean 'both' 'Either girl was wearing a nice dress.'?


    2) Mother saying to her son, 'There are 2 toys. You are allowed to play with either of them'


    What is the meaning of 'either' here. Can it have both meanings depending on the context - one or the other or both?


    3) What about things of which logically only 2 exist e. g.: hand, side, end etc.


    'Please put a chair at either end of the table.'


    Does 'either' mean here at both ends or at one or the other?




    Looking forward to your answer


    Joern

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    Hello everybody,


    I read in a dictionary that ''either'' also has the meaning of one and the other of two and not only one or the other of two.
    Examples:


    1) Yesterday, I met 2 girls at the bar. Both were wearing a nice dress.

    Can 'either' be used here to mean 'both' 'Either girl was wearing a nice dress.'?


    2) Mother saying to her son, 'There are 2 toys. You are allowed to play with either of them'


    What is the meaning of 'either' here. Can it have both meanings depending on the context - one or the other or both?


    3) What about things of which logically only 2 exist e. g.: hand, side, end etc.


    'Please put a chair at either end of the table.'


    Does 'either' mean here at both ends or at one or the other?




    Looking forward to your answer


    Joern
    1. No

    2. One or the other.

    3. One or the other.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    1. No
    2. Yes
    3. It depends on the context. It could mean either.
    (I appear to disagree with Mike. In AusE, "Put a chair at either end of the table" would generally mean, "Take two chairs and put one at each end of the table.) It's best not to use 'either' in ambiguous ways, but sometimes the context makes it too obvious to worry about.
    Last edited by Raymott; 09-Feb-2014 at 12:32.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    1. No
    2. Yes
    3. It depends on the context. It could mean either.
    (I appear to disagree with Mike. In AusE, "Put a chair at either end of the table" would generally mean, "Take two chairs and put at each end of the table.) It's best not to use 'either' in ambiguous ways, but sometimes the context makes it too obvious to worry about.
    In my parlance that would mean one end. If one intends both ends, one should say that. Put a chair at both ends of the table. There is no reason to create ambiguity.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    There is no reason to create ambiguity.
    I agree. That's why I wrote "It's best not to use 'either' in ambiguous ways." What does that mean to you?

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I agree. That's why I wrote "It's best not to use 'either' in ambiguous ways." What does that mean to you?
    Sorry, I thought you were disagreeing. If not, I apologize. I didn't know what "sometimes it is too obvious to worry about" was meant to say.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Meaning of ''either''

    I think there is a lot of room for ambiguity - "There was a statue on either side of the doorway" tells me there was one on the left, and one on the right. I agree that "both" would be clearer, but I would not guess it was perhaps the right, perhaps the left, but not both. (That would be "one side of the doorway.")

    These are not ambiguous:
    Put a chair on one side of the table or the other.
    Put a chair on both sides.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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