1

Which is correct?

  1. This degree of freedom in design can either lead to energy efficiency or better space utilization of room, or both.

  2. This degree of freedom in design can lead to either energy efficiency or better space utilization of room, or both.

  • Why not just say can lead to energy efficiency, better space utilization, or both to be clear? What does the either add to the meaning? – Davo Apr 18 '17 at 18:05
  • "either" is here to emphasize that "this design" can sometimes cause A or B depending on the situation. Having both A and B can be a possibility and is not always true. – NAASI Apr 18 '17 at 18:47
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    @NAASI "either" is usually used to suggest that the possibilities are mutually exclusive. I'd say "can lead to X and/or Y" if they're not exclusive. – Barmar Apr 18 '17 at 18:50
  • To me, putting the "either" before the "lead to" makes it sound like another verb should follow, e.g. "You should either choose number 2 or omit the 'either'" (notice the two verbs). But as others have said, since you add "or both," using "either" at all is not technically correct. – vpn Apr 18 '17 at 19:54
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#2 is correct (or more correct). #1 is incorrect (or less correct), but it will usually be understood by most listeners as meaning the same thing as #2.

In other words, this answer is a bit pedantic - most people will not notice or care about the difference, in most contexts.

This is correct:

This degree of freedom in design can either lead to energy efficiency or lead to better space utilization.

(And you could use a different verb in place of the second "lead to": ...can either lead to energy efficiency or enable better space utilization.)

This is also correct:

This degree of freedom in design either can lead to energy efficiency or can lead to better space utilization.

The positions of either and or control (at least suggest) their scope.

  • Phew! that means I don't need to post a more pedantic answer. Nevertheless, in all those cases, either seems to add nothing useful. How would it change either the nature or the likelihood of the outcomes if you left either on the shelf? – Robbie Goodwin May 9 '17 at 14:06
  • @RobbieGoodwin: either...*or* provides a way of scoping effect of the or. In other words, it performs grouping. In programming languages that would be done using, for example, parentheses. either A or B is generally equivalent to or (A, B), where A and B can be anything. either...or... means either (...) or (...). Without the either it can be ambiguous where the grouping starts/ends. So in some cases the either is superfluous, but not in general. – Drew May 9 '17 at 14:43
  • Thanks for the 101 and could you look past that generic lecture and focus on the specific cases here? In all those cases, neither either by itself nor either / or in combination seem to add anything useful… though you might be able to explain how at least one of them does? Please either accept that it doesn't, or explain how you think it would change either the nature or the likelihood of the outcomes if you left either on the shelf – Robbie Goodwin May 9 '17 at 22:43
  • @RobbieGoodwin: Correct; in these particular examples you need not use either. There is no possibility of ambiguity without either, here. – Drew May 9 '17 at 23:13
  • Thanks Drew and also I’m sorry; I was concentrating so hard on your answer, I skipped over the original comments where Davo and vanderpn tried to make the same point… but it seemed to bounce off. What you said was quite right but NAASI banged the nails into his own bed. – Robbie Goodwin May 10 '17 at 9:15

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