Either A, B, or C?


Senior Member
According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, "either" means one or the other of two things or people.

I can say, "You can take either A or B."

How do you say, if there are more than two things?

I don't think "either" can be used.
Can I say, "You can take A or B or C or D"?
or "You can take A, B, C, or D"?

If I say, "A, B, C, or D," do people misunderstand that it means "A+B+C or C"?
  • panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I think this has been discussed before, but I can't, yet, find the thread I was looking for. Here are some.

    either .a,b..or.c.
    either + 2 or
    either + a number of options (with commas, without "or")

    You will see different opinions about the acceptability of either followed by more than two things.

    Reading your sentence:
    You can take A, B, C, or D.
    I understand that I should take one of these, only one.

    You can have an apple, an orange, a banana or a pear.

    I am being offered one of these.

    I don't have any problem with either followed by lots of things.
    I disagree with Longman.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Like Panjandrum, I am quite prepared to follow either with more than two objects. Only when it is an adjective ("on either side of the river") or a pronoun ("on either(?) of the three trains" do I limit the meaning to two things.

    Example: The majority of his paintings feature either children, fishermen or old people (This England, 1983).
    I understand this to mean a painting will have only one of these three categories (children.........old people).


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think it is common in examination rubrics, where it is important to emphasise that only one of a set of questions should be answered that you get multiple objects.

    QUESTION 1 ...
    QUESTION 2 ...
    QUESTION 3 ...

    So I'm in agreement with panj and e2e.