In general, EFL students are taught the two main ways of pronouncing the determiner "either" are the British [ˈaɪðə] and the American [ˈiːðər] varieties. However, I've repeatedly heard from specific North American individuals (face-to-face and on TV) another pronunciation: [ˈaɪðər]. My specific question here is: does that phenomenon take place because of some dialectical/idiolectical/sociolectical background? Thanks!

  • I was intrigued that you identify just one pronunciation as the American variety. I use ˈiːðər ˈaɪðər or ˈiːðər. I can say it ˈiːðər way and generally pick whichever fits best with the meter of the sentence. ˈaɪðər is really okay.
    – virmaior
    Feb 14, 2014 at 2:24
  • Indeed, it doesn't matter at all in American English, and they don't indicate anything about the speaker.
    – JDong
    Feb 14, 2014 at 2:27
  • related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/776/…
    – user16723
    Feb 14, 2014 at 5:20
  • fwiw, [ˈaɪðə] and [ˈaɪðər] are really the same pronunciation just represented using the normal phonetic system for British English and American English, respectively. Many British English accents are rhotic and would pronounce the /r/ and some American English accents are non-rhotic and would not pronounce the /r/
    – nohat
    Feb 26, 2014 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


Many Americans do indeed use the latter two pronunciations interchangeably; one individual will use both, on different occasions. I don't agree that there is no difference at all, however. To me and I think many Americans, there is a very slight sense that "eye-ther" (American "long i") is more formal, elegant, higher-class than "ee-ther" (American "long e")—simply because it sounds more British to Americans.

  • You can say either EEEther or AYEther, whichever you like.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 26, 2014 at 23:42

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