"either"

Subject: "either"
From: Tom Little <LITTLE_TOM_H -at- OFVAX -dot- LANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 14:58:00 MDT

> The following sentence has caused some debate among my fellow writers:

> "Entries either are alphanumeric strings, such as usernames or passwords; or a
> choice between several preset strings, such as enabled or disabled."

> The debate stems from the placement of the word "either." I believe that the
> sentence reads better as follows:

> "Entries are either alphanumeric strings...."

> What's more important grammatical exactness or readability?

Grammar and readability are not in conflict here. Both demand placing "either"
after "are". Since the verb is not repeated before the second alternative, the
alternatives are "alphanumeric strings..." and "a choice between..."

By the way, the semicolon should be changed to a comma. Its only purpose is to
end the parenthetical phrase "such as usernames or passwords."

Tom Tadfor Little | "They called me
Technical Writer/Editor | 'the quiet one' because
Los Alamos National Laboratory | I just didn't have anything
little_tom_h -at- ofvax -dot- lanl -dot- gov | to say" -- George Harrison, 1987.


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