# “if either of them isn't correct” or “if any of them isn't correct”?

Tell me please which sentence is correct and why.

And by the way, is it either of them is or either of them are?

• It should be any of them aren't and either of them isn't. – Jason Bassford Jun 28 '19 at 22:28
• @jason I disagree: "any of them isn't" is correct. it is effectively short for "any one of them isn't" – David Siegel Jul 3 '19 at 18:38
• @DavidSiegel Only if you choose to interpret it that way. I could choose to interpret it as being short for any three of them aren't. You simply can't use a one-to-many expansion and assume that only one of those many possibilities is the one that's definitely been intended. – Jason Bassford Jul 3 '19 at 18:46

Either of your suggested sentences could be correct, depending on the context. If there are exactly two problems or things to be checked, that is if "them" consists of exactly two items, then "either" would be correct. If "them" consists of more than two items, "any" would be correct.

While "any" can be used for a group of two, it usually isn't so used.

Strictly speaking, "either" means "one or the other", that is, it indicates a choice of exactly one of two things. "You may either go or stay." and so the use of either suggests that there is no chance of both things being not correct. One could say

If either or both of them isn't correct, the teacher will help you.

But this is a bit on the formal side, and where it is clear that "both" is possible, it could be omitted and implied.

And by the way, is it either of them is or either of them are?

It should be "either of them is". Because either indicates a choice of one option, it takes singular forms. It should also be "any of them is.

As the this post about the use of "each" says, singular forms should be used here, although most people will not strongly object to the incorrect plural forms. While "them" represents a group, "either", "any" (and "each" not used in the question) consider the members of that group one at a time, so singular forms are correct, and plural forms are not.

"Any of them" can be thought of as short for "any one of them" or "any one or more of them". Therefore one should say:

One should not say: "If any of the answers are incorrect..."

Another acceptable alternative would be:

• Does it take singular forms with the word "any" as well? For example: "any of the questions is correct" – Dmytro O'Hope Jun 27 '19 at 20:10
• @Dmy Yes, use singular forms with "any" in this construction. See my edited answer. – David Siegel Jun 28 '19 at 8:22
• This isn't entirely correct. Any answers takes a plural. (Any answer would take a singular.) – Jason Bassford Jun 28 '19 at 22:29

I think it would depend on what the pronoun "them" represents. In either case, you would want to use aren't, not isn't. The correct sentence to use depends on whether "them" refers to two objects or more than two objects.

"Them" would be a plural object pronoun. Suppose you knew that "them" referred to "the questions" (more than 2 questions). In this case, you would need to have your noun and conjugated verb ("to be" is the infinitive) show quantity agreement.

If any of the questions aren't correct, the teacher will help you.

If "them" refers to exactly 2 questions, you would be trying to say

If this question isn't correct or this question isn't correct, the teacher will help you.

This implies a two-choice scenario, and you would say