There are certain words, if absent in a given sentence does not make any difference.

For an example,

Either today is Monday or Tuesday.

Can also be written as:

Today is Monday or Tuesday.

These two sentences are exactly same without any loss of meaning per se.

The only word that came across in my mind is filler. But, I am not happy with this word. It does not encompass entire meaning to what I am looking for.

If I want to say:

"Either is called ____ in above example. Its absence in the sentence will not make any difference in the meaning of the given sentence."

  • 1
    Either in the above sentence is not unnecessary. It serves a purpose. You may find a better example.
    – Kris
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:27
  • I am studying logic and this example is coming right from well know book. Also, there are tons of similar examples where Either ... OR is simply normalized to OR because Either doesn't add any extra sense to sentence.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:32
  • Good that you are approaching it from the logic perspective. Either is not unnecessary. It is part of the structure. However, it may be dropped without change of meaning because it is understood (to be there). You see the logic of omitting it, I suppose.
    – Kris
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:35
  • @Kris Is this sentence grammatically incomplete: "Today is Monday or Tuesday." Thanks for taking interest in my question :)
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:39
  • To me usage of "Either" (also given in book) is optional.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:40

3 Answers 3


Either today is Monday or Tuesday contains the correlative conjunctions either/or. Peters in The Cambridge Guide to English Usage (p300) lists correlatives as one example of grammatical redundancy. She defines redundancy as:

...a general term referring to where the same grammatical meaning is expressed more than once in a clause or sentence.

She says that the use of correlatives makes for 'good style', and notes that redundancy such as in the inclusion of either in the OP's example:

...is particularly useful in spoken discourse because speech is a linear form of communication that disappears into the air waves. The repetition or underscoring that goes with redundancy helps ensure that details of the message don't get lost.

So, to complete the OP's sentence:

"Either is redundant in above example. Its absence in the sentence will not make any difference in the meaning of the given sentence." (But its inclusion serves to underscore the alternative nature of the two elements Monday or Tuesday.)

Another term which denotes the inclusion of superfluous words is tautology. Tautology refers to the repeated expression of the same idea in a single phrase or predication (Peters, 335):

For example the free gift used in advertising copy; or the phrase in the classroom context where "context" adds an unnecessary superordinate to the preceding adverbial.

Pleonasm is the term that subsumes redundancy and tautology (Wikipedia links).

  • I am happy with your answer :) Can you please use it in the given sentence? I will appreciate it. Thank you every much. You captured the idea I was trying to express.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 11:33
  • And sorry, I don't have enough reputations to up vote your answer.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 11:34
  • @EVG. Done. (As far as I know all askers can accept their chosen answer to the question they posed.)
    – Shoe
    Jan 30, 2019 at 11:38

This word can be called superfluous.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superfluous):

1a: exceeding what is sufficient or necessary  : EXTRA

b: not needed  : UNNECESSARY

  • The word superfluous is used in relation with something extra or more. Like you ask me 5 apples and I give you 10 apples at that time 5 extra apples are superfluous. I am looking for word which means - not needed in first place. Thank you any ways!
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:22
  • Note "b: not needed" in the answer above.
    – Kris
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:26
  • @Kris "b: not needed" because it is extra than required. Whereas I am looking for: not needed in first place at all.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:28
  • Please make it clearer. See also my comment at the question.
    – Kris
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:29

By having "it is either" announces the day can be no other than the two presented without arguement. Without it, the sentance allows space to say (for example) " no, it's still Sunday".

Ergo, it has a purpose and not superfluous.

  • Well I am sorry to say, but you are wrong here.
    – Ubi.B
    Jan 30, 2019 at 11:22
  • How am I wrong? By setting parameters...i
    – melt
    Jan 30, 2019 at 12:28
  • +1 Quite so. The use of either explicitly restricts the choices to only the two options presented. There is a semantic difference between I don't know what to do. I could watch a movie or read a book . . . and I don't know what to do. I could either watch a movie or read a book . . . Without either, there is the possibility of deciding something other than those two choices. Jan 31, 2019 at 6:42
  • @JasonBassford thanks for taking time and giving your input :) Jason, there is difference between Inclusive OR (Either...OR or just OR) and Exclusive OR (Either...OR). In study of (formal) logic Inclusive OR is understood and in day-to-day language usage idea of Exclusive OR is more common. Exclusive OR does not understand the idea of both option at the same time. e.g. you like to eat apple or banana means you have to choose one out of given two, but in logics where inclusive OR is common you can choose both. Thanks!
    – Ubi.B
    Feb 1, 2019 at 2:05
  • @melt I have given common reply above. Once again thanks!!!
    – Ubi.B
    Feb 1, 2019 at 2:06

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