Posted by: episystechpubs | April 19, 2016

Editor’s Corner: You Say To-May-Toe, I Say To-Mah-Toe

The other day, I was reading something here and someone used the word either and then mentioned three things. This struck me as odd and incorrect. For example, “He told me to wear either my black hot pants, my blue Daisy Dukes, or my red capris.” How can you wear one or the other of three things?

I found this tidbit from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.):

The traditional rule holds that either should be used only to refer to one of two items and that any is required when more than two items are involved: Any (not either) of the three opposition candidates still in the race would make a better president than the incumbent.

Huzzah, hurrah, I thought. I love being right. But, unfortunately, either isn’t that easy. For example, you could say that Willy Wonka’s chocolate flows in either direction, and it is correct because either is being used as an adjective to mean “each” or “one and/or the other” direction.

You might recognize when it is disguised as an adverb, too, meaning “also”: “John isn’t into the circus, and I’m not either.”

Either can be a lot of things, but I will stick by my rule of removing it when you use it to talk about more than two options. If you’re still not certain if it is okay, check the dictionary before you use it. I might even give you a gold star.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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