Do the following sentences present acceptable usages for either?

  1. Either this or that fruit is not tasty.

I do understand I should have said that differently i.e. with a positive statement:

Neither this nor that fruit is tasty.

But I am particularly interested in the negation. Some more examples for consideration:

  1. Either fruits are not tasty.

  2. Either students will not be restricted.

  3. Either of the lakes are not polluted.

  4. Either paths have not been taken.

P.S. I am not interested in these classic usages for either in a negation:

My pal is sober and I am not drunk either. [hic]

We cannot use either copybook.

  • Your either sentences are not idiomatic.They are ungrammatical. Neither is tasty|polluted|restricted|taken. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '17 at 13:57
  • Fruit does not usually take an s. Neither fruit is tasty. Neither is used as an adjective. Either can be too. You are confusing adjectives and conjunctions. – Lambie Jan 27 '17 at 17:47
  • Fruit takes s when used to represent particular items of that type, not generic item class. Either fruits are not tasty is the case. Either fruits means both of those two oranges here. Did not get what you are saying about the adjectives and conjunctions. – Zverev Evgeniy Jan 27 '17 at 17:50

either in the pattern you have provided in your example sentences refers individually to two valid alternatives. A valid alternative is one having the required qualities.

We can take either road.

Either road will take us where we want to go.

Either will take us there.

For that reason, it is an inherent contradiction and ungrammatical to use either as the subject of a predicate where a valid alternative is said not to possess a required quality.

Either road won't take us where we want to go. ungrammatical

The correct form is

Neither road will take us where we want to go.

Neither refers individually to two invalid alternatives.

  • I appended another example: We cannot use either copybook.. Is it the same? I mean does it sound ungrammatical as well? – Zverev Evgeniy Jan 27 '17 at 17:53
  • It is grammatical. But in this new example, either specifies the object, not the subject. I don't want either. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '17 at 18:00
  • Got it, thanks, So this new sample is out of topic, I move it out of the main question. – Zverev Evgeniy Jan 27 '17 at 18:07
  • 1
    Both pieces of fruit are ripe... Both fruits are poisonous.... Both fruits are inedible... are all grammatical. If we are talking about two pieces of fruit, I'd probably say "Neither piece of fruit is ripe" rather than "Both pieces of fruit are not ripe", but Both is not ungrammatical there. Perhaps marginal, with not. Both cars are not for sale strikes my ear as a little odd. Neither car is for sale seems the more natural choice. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '17 at 20:14
  • 1
    The question about both is rather different and interesting. Please ask that separately, to see what others have to say in terms of whether Both cars are not for sale strikes them as marginal or as fully grammatical or just slightly "off". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '17 at 21:12

I think that grammatically it isn't correct in each case.

For each case I would negate either, rather than use not elsewhere in the sentence.

  1. Neither fruit is tasty
  2. Neither student will be restricted
  3. Neither lake is polluted
  4. Neither path has been taken

I think it is far more natural sounding (and a bit more succinct) to negate either in every case.

  • As I mentioned in my question, I know how to rephrase all the sentences using neither. My question not answered. – Zverev Evgeniy Jan 27 '17 at 14:45
  • Sorry, I had edited out my actual answer to your question, I will add it back in now. – Michael Curry Jan 27 '17 at 14:47

Either fruits are not tasty.

We/I do not like either fruit.

Either students will not be restricted.

We/I will not restrict either student.

Either of the lakes are not polluted.

This lake is not polluted and that one isn't either.

Either paths have not been taken.

We can't/did not take this path or the either.

No one has taken this path or the either.

All of these sentences sound awkward to a native speaker. The other answers are correct in saying the word you want is neither.

We cannot use either copybook. (I've heard this used fairly often, so you can use it.)

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