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Given:

You can do it in either of two ways.

Does that mean that you have but two choices?

Edit: It's from a technical article which concerning how to export a function in dll. Here's the original sentence:

You can export functions in either of two ways—a .def file or the __declspec(dllexport) keyword. To help you decide which way is better for your DLL, consider these questions...

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    This will depend on context. Can you tell us a little more about where you saw this or what you're trying to say? – 1006a Sep 17 '16 at 14:02
  • It's from a technical article which concerning how to export a function in dll. Here follows the original sentence, "You can export functions in either of two ways—a .def file or the __declspec(dllexport) keyword. To help you decide which way is better for your DLL, consider these questions..." – felix Sep 17 '16 at 14:06
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    'Can' is polysemous. If this is the alethic modal usage (it is possible ...), there are two ways only to perform the task (assuming that the Gricean maxim of quantity is not being violated). If this is the (usually considered informal) deontic usage (you are allowed to ...), you are being presented only with these two ways of doing it. There may be others, and you might defiantly choose one of these. Not performing the task may or may not be an allowed choice (and is certainly an option you might choose). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 17 '16 at 15:41
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    it means you have ONE choice to make, with two apparent options :) – Ron Kyle Sep 17 '16 at 15:58
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    @HotLicks: If you are instructed that you can choose one of two then those two are the set from which you can choose. If nothing more is said then there are no other choices. The verb can suggests that you can also make no such choice, but it does not suggest that you can choose a 3rd thing. Pick a number from 1 to 10 does not mean also or maybe 42. If these are technical instructions then other choices would likely be indicated. IOW, with no other context, such an instruction assumes the closed-world hypothesis (IMHO). – Drew Sep 17 '16 at 23:01
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The sentence does not imply that directly. If you say

You can do it, only in either of two ways.

that would mean that you have but two choices. Else it would depend on the context. eg. You can reach the top of the Empire State Building, either by the staircase or by the elevator. This does not exclude the other options, like say, some stunts-man climbing the building using the external plumbing.

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As a preliminary comment, I'd like to point out that although you are asking about how restrictive the phrase is, its force in typical dialogue is the opposite: to give the choice to the other party. The restrictive version starts with you must.

In your example, the scope of discussion is limited to the file and the keyword. As written, there is more than the hint of a suggestion that the implementation is also limited in like manner, though an enterprising hacker may well find some other means of export.

On the other hand, consider the following example:

Question 768249: A man can travel 120 miles in either of two ways. He can travel at a constant rate of 40 miles per hour, or he can travel halfway at 50 miles per hour, then slow [down] to 30 miles per hour for the second 60 miles. Which way is faster, and by how much? - algebra.com

This example uses exactly the same formula: someone can do something "in either of two ways".

Answering Question 768249 requires one to consider just those two ways of traveling the 120 miles. That's the limit the phrase imposes on the scope of discussion.

However, it doesn't assert that those are the only two ways to travel 120 miles. There is an unlimited number of combinations of speeds and pauses the man can employ to travel that distance. The wording of Question 768249 doesn't invalidate those ways - it just asserts that it wants to limit the discussion to two particular ways.

In summary, the phrase "you can do it in either of two ways" limits the scope of discussion to those two ways, but it does not necessarily assert that there are no other ways. There may be other ways, or there may not. The phrase doesn't give you any information about it.

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