What's the difference between the Either and Both?

When and how should we use each of them?

closed as off-topic by Mari-Lou A, Chenmunka, Nathan Tuggy, SovereignSun, ColleenV Aug 23 '17 at 12:37

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  • Why do you want to close this question? – SovereignSun Aug 23 '17 at 11:51
  • @SovereignSun Actually, I don't want to close the question. I'm new to this community and I'd like to know why the question is put on hold? – Ahmad Payan Aug 26 '17 at 3:53
  • Either is used to speak only about one or the other of two elements; to select one out of two.
  • Both is used to indicate the first and the second elements together.


  1. It was either James or Bobby who did it. (Only one of them did it)
  2. It was both James and Bobby who did it. (James and Bobby did it together)

Notice that with "either" you use "or" and with "both" you use "and". Notice also, that it's natural to use "either" only with two options or elements.

Notice that Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary says that “either” can be used “before two or more coordinate words, phrases, or clauses joined usually by or.” and most dictionaries generally accept the use of “either” or “neither” to introduce a series of more than two items:

  • I called you up yesterday and you didn't answer. Where were you?
  • I was either at the shop, the cinema, my dad's garage or at my girlfriend's home. It all depends on when you called me up.

Another example:

  • Do you want to go to Gabriel Kreuther or Per Se? Both restaurants are good.
  • Do you want to go to Gabriel Kreuther or Per Se? Either restaurant is good.

Basically, both the sentences mean the same thing, however, when we use "both" we indicate that the first one is good and the second one is good. When we use "either" we indicate that each of them is good.

  • 1
    Another thing to note is that with more than two options in an "either or" statement, each word is only used once: "Would you like an ice cream? You can have either chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla." – Aric Aug 23 '17 at 10:44

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