The issue is confusing to me. That's what I heard from natives.

1 The house has a door at either end.

2 The house has a door at both ends.

Some say that 1 and 2 are correct and mean that there are two doors, one door at each end.

Others say that 1 doesn't mean that there are two doors. It means that there is only one door at either end.

Others say that 2 is incorrect because it's impossible to have one door at both ends. Probably, they meant it that way if we use "one door" instead of "a door". Would this make a difference?

3 The house has ONE door at both ends.

Do 2 and 3 mean the same or not?

Others say that the best is this:

4 The house has a door at each end.

What are your ideas, comments on the issues?

1 Answer 1


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "Either as a determiner before a singular countable noun can mean ‘both’". With this meaning, however, the criticism of the second sentence now applies to the first sentence.

The criticism about the second sentence is valid: you can't have a door that is in two places. Sentence 3 does not solve the problem, because you still only have one door. The corrected version would be:

2a. The house has doors at both ends

This is now grammatically correct because there are multiple doors, so they can be in two places, but it is ambiguous: there could be multiple doors at each end.

The fourth sentence is grammatically correct and unambiguous. each states that we are talking about the ends individually, so it is clear that we have exaclty one door at one end and exactly one door at the other end.

  1. The house has a door at each end

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