9

This question already has an answer here:

I've searched for whether "either" can be used in a context on which the possible options are made of more than two, and found the answer here over English Language Usage. It says that it is informal to use "either" on more than two options, but is used widely especially in oral communication.

However, he didn't mention that what is the best alternative to "either" in three or more options in formal context, and hence I posted this question here.

So, on the situation where there are multiple options possible, how should I express my sentence? For example, I want to know the alternative to this sentence:

I classify all pitches as either fastballs, breaking balls, or off-speed pitches.

marked as duplicate by Matt E. Эллен, Tim Lymington supports Monica, Ronan, anongoodnurse, user66974 May 14 '14 at 18:12

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    The simplest option would be to just remove either. It would still keep the meaning of your sentence clear, I think. – oerkelens May 14 '14 at 9:45
  • Then if the option is only two, should I still use "either ~ or", or remove the "either" in that case, too? Also, removing "either" on three or more case is still better than using it? – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 9:52
  • Matt, did you read my question? That is the page I linked to! – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 9:52
  • "I classify all pitches as either fastballs, breaking balls, or off-speed pitches." -- Your usage is fine, and it is fully grammatical. See the 2002 reference grammar CGEL, page 1305 [39.ii.b] "I'll either call out or bang on the door or blow my whistle" with also "but either is used in multiple as well as binary coordination", and page 388 "like either Kim, Pat, or Alex are also possible". – F.E. May 14 '14 at 20:50
  • What is the 2002 reference grammar CGEL? Google result returns "Did you mean: ". (google.com/search?q=%202002%20reference%20grammar%20CGEL) – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 23:30
5

Either--Or statement is used to choose between two given options , in the sentence you mention , there are three given choices , so

Either remove one option or

Write the sentence simply like :

I can classify all pitches as fast balls , breaking balls and/or off-speed pitches.

  • Thanks. Is the "and" in and/or necessary? – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 9:56
  • If you use commas to separate each option then that case is fine too but a more common practice is to include an AND/OR right before the last option. – Invoker May 14 '14 at 9:58
  • So if I classify a pitch to only one of the three category and not include it to two different categories (say, Pitch A to fastballs and off-speed at the same time), is it appropriate to use and/or? In other words, is and/or not related to how many categories to which a single pitch may possibly be classified? – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 10:05
  • 3
    The and/or changes the meaning! Either indicates an exclusive or, one of the options is valid, but not both. Including and and/or indicates that more than one option could apply, so even informally, either could not have been used. – oerkelens May 14 '14 at 10:13
  • Ah, OK. I have to classify it as exclusive. – Blaszard May 14 '14 at 10:17
3

Another option is "one of" like

"I classify all pitches as one of: fast balls, breaking balls and off-speed pitches."

  • If one wants the same meaning as the "and/or" that was mentioned in another answer, they'd use "one or more of" or just omit the phrase altogether and say "...as: fast balls..." – TecBrat May 14 '14 at 14:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.