Any vs. Either

By Maeve Maddox

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I just did a double-take when reading an article about creating passport photos using Photoshop Elements and another application. Here’s what threw me:

If you have any of these two applications, then you can follow this simple do-it-yourself project…

any of these two applications


In speaking of two applications, the word either is called for:

If you have either of these two applications.

If, however, one is talking about three or more applications, one may say:

If you have any of the photo editing applications available these days, you can….

either = one or the other; from OE hwaether, each of two
any = one indifferently out of more than two

The negative of either is neither.

Here are some quotations from the press:

… the poor and the unwanted, with people very much like my mother.My mother needed neither my pity nor my shame. Just my compassion and respect. … (

… on trade and immigration — is taking root within his adopted party, and those uneasy with grievance politics are either giving in or giving up the fight. (

Hearty and nutritious, but still buttery and rich, these unfussy pancakes come together quickly and without any special equipment. (

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7 Responses to “Any vs. Either”

  • M

    You say ee-ther and I say eye-ther

  • Bill Womack – Words for Writers

    Another closely related (and frequently wrong) comparison is saying someone or something is the best of two. As I understand it, best is reserved for comparing three or more. With only two people or things, one can only be the better.

  • Jay Wagers

    I agree. When using “either” the comparison is between two items: “either . . . or.”

    It is the same with “neither . . . nor” and “not only . . . but also.”

    When using “any,” “most,” “many,” “some,” etc., these should only apply to three or more items.

  • Norma H Flaskerud

    On this subject: I think a few refers to mabye 2-3 items while several refers to maybe 3-6? And a couple of items would refer to 2 (like a couple/two people.)
    I argue with my husband about this often. He says a few is 4-7 items.
    What do you all think?

  • Margaret Casey

    …or somewhat akin to mis-using “between” and “among”. Most people seem to use “between” when they really should be using “among”.

  • Margaret Casey

    …or somewhat akin to mis-using “between” and “among”. Most people seem to use “between” when they really should be using “among”.

  • Maeve

    Regarding the use of “few,” I feel a post coming on. Stay tuned.

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