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EITHER OR: Usage and Useful Examples in English

EITHER OR: Usage and Useful Examples in English

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In the following text, we will delve deeper into the usage of “either or,” including proper syntax, common mistakes, and examples to further your understanding. With this guidance, you’ll be able to effectively employ “either or” in your communication and enrich your language skills.

EITHER OR Overview



Either refers to any one of the two things or people. Either is always considered singular in a sentence. Either/or is a correlative conjunction. We use either/or for connect things which are the same types, phrases, clauses, or words.

  • Either: Option A
  • Or: Option B

In this construct, Option A and Option B cannot coexist; choosing one means not choosing the other.


When examining the structure of “either or” decisions, we recognize a simple framework:

  1. Presentation of Choices: Identifying the two distinct options available.
  2. Mutual Exclusivity: Understanding that these options cannot occur simultaneously.
  3. Decision-Making Criterion: Criteria or factors that will influence the choice between the two.

In a structured table, we might represent these elements as follows:

Element Description
Presentation of Choices Two separate and clear options are presented.
Mutual Exclusivity Selecting one option inherently means not selecting the other.
Decision-Making Criterion A set of considerations that guide which option is chosen.

Example Sentences

  • Either he or she cooks dinner.
  • Either Mark or Samuel will go.
  • You can either come with me now or walk home.
  • They don’t have enough time. They can either have breakfast or have a shower.
  • You can either call me at home or the office.
  • I’ll either write to you or phone you next week.
  • Life is a horse, and either you ride it or it rides you.

Either/or vs. Neither/nor

When we make choices or distinguish between two options, we often use the conjunctions either/or and neither/nor. These pairs are not interchangeable, but they follow similar structural rules. Let’s explore how we use them.

Either/or is used when we want to present two possible options, and the selection can be one or the other, but not both or neither. For instance:

  • You can have either apples or bananas.

It suggests a clear choice between apples and bananas.

On the flip side, neither/nor is the pairing we use when excluding both possibilities offered. It’s equivalent to saying “not the one and also not the other”:

  • Neither apples nor bananas are available.

Here, we convey that no apples or bananas are present.

Here is a simple structure comparison:

Either/or Neither/nor
Either A or B Neither A nor B
Implies a choice between A and B Implies the exclusion of both A and B
Example: Either tea or coffee Example: Neither tea nor coffee

Remember that either can also stand alone as a response, implying “one or the other is fine,” while neither used alone means “none of the options are acceptable.”

  • Would you like tea or coffee?
  • Either is fine.
  • Do you want tea or coffee?
  • Neither, thanks.

Understanding how to use these conjunctions correctly allows us to convey our message more clearly and accurately. We can offer choices with either/or or express a double negation with neither/nor effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the term ‘either or’ signify in context?

When we use the term “either or” in a conversation or in writing, we’re presenting two choices or alternatives. Essentially, it means that one of the two options must be chosen, but not both. It’s a way of emphasizing the fact that there are just two choices and that one must be picked.

Can you give me some examples of using ‘either or’ in a sentence?

Certainly! Here are a few examples:

  1. You can either have ice cream or cake, but not both.
  2. We can either go to the movies tonight or stay home.
  3. I’ll either read a book or watch a movie before going to bed.

These sentences demonstrate how “either or” is used to present two distinct options and invite someone to make a choice between them.

What are the grammatical rules for using ‘either or’ in English?

When using “either or” in English sentences, you should be aware of the following rules:

  1. Place “either” before the first option and “or” before the second option.
  2. Ensure that the two options being presented are parallel in structure, meaning they have the same grammatical form.
  3. When using “either or” with plural nouns, the verb that follows the options should agree with the noun closer to it. For example, “Either the cats or the dog is responsible for the mess.”