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    • Join Date: Sep 2006
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    #1

    specific question I.

    Thank you in advance for your last responses. In reaction to a previous misunderstanding I have modified my thread question . Here it is:

    Either / Neither

    What number do we use in sentences with either and neither? Which of these sentences are correct? What I am trying to express is a distinct response by using only either and neither, firstly in case I like both options and secondly I like only one of the options. Here we go:

    Firstly - I like both options:
    Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either girl.
    Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either girls.
    Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either of them (btw: does this sentence really mean both girls?)
    Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either one.

    Secondly - I like either first or second possibility:
    Will you deliver both pizza orders? I dont know yet I prehaps will deliver either of orders.
    Will you deliver both pizza orders? I dont know yet I prehaps will deliver either of the orders.

    -------------

    And others...which ones are correct?

    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I like neither cars.
    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I like neither car.
    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I like neither of cars.
    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I like neither of car.
    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I don't like either car.
    Do you like Porsche or Mercedes? I don't like either of cars.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: specific question I.

    Quote Originally Posted by jirikoo
    What number do we use in sentences with either and neither?
    If they function as the subject, a singular verb; if they're followed by a prepositional phrase then the preposition's object tends to agree in number with the verb, though, practice varies.

    In the sentences directly below, either functions as an adjective, so no need to worry about verb agreement.

    My comments follow the examples.

    [1] Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either girl.
    [2] Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either girls.
    [3] Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either of them (btw: does this sentence really mean both girls?)
    [4] Do you like Susan or Petra? I like either one.

    either has two meanings:

    (i) one or the other (That meaning you don't want);
    (ii) each of the two (planes; e.g., sides, ends, etc.;
    e.g.,There are trees on either side of the street. (That's the meaning you're going for, right?)

    OK. Well, let's take a closer look at the semantics. Here's a short between a ticket agent and a customer. The customer wants to tell the ticket agent that she doesn't have a preference over one seat or the other:

    Ticket agent: Do you want a window or an aisle seat?
    Customer: Either seat will do. I don't have a preference.

    Notice that either is connected semantically to preference. Now, consider these verbs here: want, like, need. They require a definite preference. Which is why [1] sounds OK, but it also seems awkward because either goes against the semantic grain of the sentence by expressing an indefinite choice.

    [1] I like either girl.
    like = a definite preference
    either = an indefinite choice

    Do you see the semantic incompatibility at work there?

    Let's continue.

    Example [2] "I like either girls" is also semantically awkward. 'girls' is plural; 'either', singular. Try, "I like either one of the girls."

    Example [3] "I like either of them" is semantically sound given meaning (ii), each of the two).

    Also note that, 'them' is plural, yes, but it's the object of the preposition 'of'.

    Now, [3] doesn't mean that you like both girls. It means, you don't have a preference over one or the other; therefore you like both.

    Lastly, sentence [4] "I like either one" is the same structure semantically as "I like either girl". Just a little replacement there. The pronoun 'one', though, seems to sound better in that context than the noun 'girl'. The reason being, it's short for 'one of': "I like either one of them; I like either one of the girls." Here the pronoun 'one' defines a preference, but either remains indefinite.

    Semantic incompatibility. That's why your example sentences kind of sound OK but seem rather awkward.

    I'll leave the rest to you.

    All the best.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #3

    Re: specific question I.

    P.S. If you're looking for a "traditional" explanation or "traditional" acceptability judgments; e.g., grammatical, ungrammatical; standard, non-standard, you'll find that each of the responses (e.g., I like either...) in examples [1] through [4] are non-Standard. But.. I believe you knew that already, and that you were testing something out.

    Good Luck!

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