Any vs. Either

By Maeve Maddox - 1 minute read

background image 296

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

Horrors!

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….

NOTE:
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. … (www.nytimes.com)

… 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. (www.nytimes.com)

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

Want to improve your English in 5 minutes a day? Click here to subscribe and start receiving our writing tips and exercises via email every day.

Recommended Articles for You


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.

Leave a comment: