Summary -- "One of these" versus "Either of these"

Subject: Summary -- "One of these" versus "Either of these"
From: "Michael West" <mwest -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 18:39:27 +1000


Thanks for your suggestions.

A number of people agreed with me that "do either of the following" suggests
that there is no significant difference, whereas "do one of the following"
raises the possibility that there may be a significant difference.

However, it is far from unanimous, so we clearly cannot rely on the choice of
adjective alone to convey our meaning.

Some people commented that "either" generally means one of two, and would not
be appropriate if there are more than two choices. I agree; however, a number
of reference works including Wester's Dictionary of English Usage cite plenty
of legitimate uses of "either" in reference to numbers greater than two.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia

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