Which of the following sentences is correct? Are both grammatical?

1: I hope to see you in either France or Belgium.


2: I hope to see you either in France or [in (optional)] Belgium.

I have looked around in a bunch of different grammar books, including A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, Practical English Usage (Swan), and various online sources and found nothing explicitly addressing this issue (I may have missed it.). Also, an Ngram shows that both are used almost just as frequently. This ELL question is very similar, but the answer has no explanation and isn't substantiated at all.

As a native speaker, I find "in either" more natural to both (or is it "both to"?) say and hear, but I'm nonetheless unsure.

Is only one of these choices grammatical, or is it just a stylistic choice?


For Sentence 2, the repetition of "in" is optional; please don't answer the question saying that the sentence is ungrammatical because of the omission of the second "in." Since France and Belgium would both be preceded (if I hadn't omitted the second "in") by "in," repeating the preposition is not required. It is merely a stylistic choice; I find that repeating the preposition puts more emphasis on the fact that the two options are distinct, so I chose to omit the second "in."

  • To whoever close voted: I specifically asked for evidence to answer the question. Can you please explain how it is opinion-based? I explicitly ask for grammatical rules, not which one sounds better (or anything else like that). – user392938 Aug 13 '20 at 7:56
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    They are both grammatical. But 2. suffers from problematic parallelism. Better is: I hope to see you either in France or in Belgium. – Shoe Aug 13 '20 at 9:09
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    The Grammarly article does not discuss either...or, so the advice there may not necessarily apply. In this case, the repetition of the preposition seems somewhat preferable to me. But that doesn't mean that its omission is ungrammatical. – Shoe Aug 13 '20 at 14:17
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    I can't blindly accept the statement 'the rule can definitely be applied to it' and agree with Shoe that the deletion of the second preposition results in a more awkward-sounding sentence after 'either' (your (2a)). Parallelisms are tricky and it would take a monograph rather than a paragraph in a book on grammar to deal with them comprehensively. // That said, (1) and (2b) are both acceptable, with (2b) not as formal as (1). I'd say your (2a) is not ungrammatical (deletions do commonly occur), but heading for a colloquialism. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '20 at 15:16
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    That needs to be in your question. But I maintain that 'I hope to see you either in France or Belgium' and especially mouthfuls like 'I hope to see you either in the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu (Chinese Taipei) or China' are better if the second preposition is not deleted. A matter of style rather than grammar. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '20 at 11:28

All options presented are grammatical.

This issue is discussed in The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language on p1307

Linear position of both and either

The usual position for both and either is at the beginning of the first coordinate, as in all the above examples: They can, however, occur to the left of the basic position, as in [44i], or to the right, as in [44b]:

[44] i

a. This was made clear both to [the men] [and their employers].

b. He was quite taken by either my [cheek] [or cheerfulness].

c. They will either have to [reduce expenditure] [or increase their income].


a.[He both overslept][and his bus was late].

b. Usually he [is either too busy to come with us] [or else has no money].

c. We must prevent rapid changes [in either the mixed liquor][or in the effluent].

The coordinates are enclosed in brackets, and the markers underlined. With placement to the left, the coordinator is separated from the first coordinate; with placement to the right (which is less common, especially with both) it occurs non-initially within it. The most frequent cases involve constructions containing a preposition, as in [44ia/iic], or a determiner, as in[44ib].

Placement in these non-basic positions is quite common, particularly with either, though usage manuals tend to regard it as stylistically undesirable. In some cases, it is the only possibility other than omission or reformulation. This is so in [44iia]: the version with both at the beginning of the first coordinate is the ungrammatical [41i] above. Similarly in [44ib] placement of either before cheek gives *my either cheek or cheerfulness, which violates constraint (a) above. Placement in non-basic position here can be avoided by repeating the determiner: either my cheek or my cheerfulness.

By virtue of their ability to occur elsewhere than before the coordinate, both and either are clearly distinct from the coordinators. Given the relationship with the NP constructions shown in [38], we analyse them as determinatives which can realise the same function as coordinators. In some cases the position ofthe determinatives matches that of modifiers in clause structure: compare It [will both solve the present problem][and may also prevent future conflict], where both follows the auxiliary verb, like the modifier in It will probably solve the present problem.


From the Cambridge Dictionary of the English Language:


We use either… or… to connect items which are the same grammatical type, e.g. words, phrases, clauses:

We can either pre- or post-date the document. I don’t mind. (connecting prefixes)

It’s either black or grey. I can’t remember. (connecting words)

You can stay either with me or with Janet. (connecting phrases)

“I hope to see you either in France or Belgium” violates this rule, because “in France” is not parallel to “Belgium,” and in effect you’ve said “I hope to see you Belgium.”

You can say “I hope to see you either in France or on the boat,” because both “in” and “on” are prepositions.

  • Actually, according to this, you don't have to repeat the preposition if both items (France and Belgium) are preceded by the same preposition. If I wanted to say, "I hope to see you either in France or on the train," I would have to use both prepositions because they differ. – user392938 Aug 13 '20 at 14:02
  • Also, this says that "an article or a preposition applying to all the members of a series must either be used only before the first term or else be repeated before each term." – user392938 Aug 13 '20 at 14:07
  • So you disagree with the answer, but had done research first in which you found no answer. Why did you ask in the first place? – Xanne Aug 13 '20 at 22:33
  • My question wasn't about the repetition of prepositions in the second sentence; it was about the order ("either in" or "in either"). Your answer (1) was erroneous and (2) didn't answer my question (in the way I wanted it answered). You gave a reason for why the second was wrong, but the reason (besides being false) didn't answer my question directly; it was more of a peripheral point. In my opinion, this would have been better suited as a comment, such as Edwin Ashworth's. Please feel free to edit my question to make it more clear that I am asking about the order of the words. – user392938 Aug 13 '20 at 22:55

I am not a native speaker so take the following with a pinch of salt. At first reading, I see a subtle difference between "either in" and "in either" in the way it could modify the potential meaning of the verb "to see" (or other verbs when possible). "I hope to see you in" does not imply physical contact and could be a visualisation (to see in). In this case there should be no iterration of the preposition linked to the verb form. Ex: I hope to see you in either Fashion or Design (not in Restauration) For the sake of the argument let's suppose that a person applied to 3 positions, one in France (fashion), one in Belgium (design) and one in London (restaurant business) and asks a relative while waiting for the best. The London position is straining. Mom hoping for the best could answer: "I hope to see you in either France or Belgium" meaning "in one of the two favored positions". I find that the visualisation option is stronger with "in either A or B" than it is with "either in A or (in) B". If "Verbe+in" does not lead to a second metaphorical meaning then the stylistic choice is yours. Symetrical structures do minimise ambiguity. I hope It made some sense.

  • The OP asks for grammatical rules, an important part of answering such questions. Please take a tour and read the FAQ. – livresque Aug 19 '20 at 1:42

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