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Either a dryer hook-up kit or power cord and separate vent kit are required.

Basically means either

  • a) dryer hook-up kit
  • b) power cord and separate vent kit

are required.

The sentence sounds wrong but I'm not sure how.

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3 Answers 3

It sounds wrong because it's not written well. A better copywriter might have written:

You will need either a dryer hook-up kit or a vent kit with separate power cord.

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As Robusto notes, this is terribly written technical English because of the ambiguity.

(Either a dryer hook-up kit or power cord) and separate vent kit are required.

or

Either a dryer hook-up kit or (power cord and separate vent kit) are required.

With a little bit of area knowledge you would be able to choose how it should be parsed. I cannot.

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Also, the either...or construction is singular and thus calls for the singular verb is rather than the plural verb are.

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Why must either...or be singular? "Either a cat and dog or a horse and pig are required" would sound ok to me. Are you suggesting "Either a cat and dog or a horse and pig is required"? –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Apr 1 '11 at 19:18
    
@Mr. Shiny: Yes. Either refers to only one of a list of items -- in your example, either a cat, a dog, a horse, or a pig, but not all of them collectively. More info here. –  Kelly Hess Apr 1 '11 at 19:30
    
your link does not seem to back up the assertion that the choices in an either-or need to be intrinsically singular; it even says "either the puppy or the twins need". And in my example it was either the pair of cat/dog OR the pair of horse/pig. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Apr 1 '11 at 19:35
    
@Mr. Shiny: More examples here. –  Kelly Hess Apr 1 '11 at 19:45
    
@KellyCHess: You misread the sentence. It means "Either (a cat and dog) or (a horse and pig) are required.". –  Mechanical snail Oct 12 '11 at 0:23
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protected by tchrist Feb 13 '13 at 11:47

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