In modern English, it is not unacceptable to use “either” if you are given a choice between more than two items.
However, if you would like to avoid using “either” when referring to more than two options, you could just list the options without using “either.”
Keep reading to learn more about how you can say “either” when there are more than two options.
The Traditional Use of “Either”
Using the word “either” has changed and evolved over time. Traditionally, “either” was a word one might use to indicate a choice between only two options.
- You can wear either the pink shirt or the blue shirt.
The Modern Use of “Either”
These days, the use of “either” has become lax, and using the word to give more than two options has become common in the English language.
Although they still use the “either/or” rule to give the choice, the number of choices given can be more than two.
- We can either go to a restaurant, go see a movie or go bowling tonight. Which would you prefer?
In the above example, the speaker is giving someone three choices in list form, replacing “and” with “or” at the end of the list.
Alternative to Using “Either”
If you wanted to give someone a choice between three or more options without using either, it would still follow the same sentence structure.
- We can bake cookies, a cake, or a pie for tonight’s dessert. Which one would you like to make?
Notice that you still keep the “or” at the end of the list of choices, but “either” is implied instead of directly stated.
Interestingly, there are not many other acceptable alternatives to using the “either/or” sentence structure, save to avoid using “either” altogether.
Although “either” has traditionally been a word associated with a choice between only two options, it is commonly used to give more than two options.
Because there are few alternatives to using the word, other than omitting it completely from the sentence, most writers have accepted this use of “either.”
The debate about how to say “either” for more than two options continues, however, with strong opinions on both sides.