Either vs Both – What’s the difference?

In English grammar, there are various types of words that often make people get confused regarding their meaning and usage. Sometimes, people consider such words the same, and sometimes they fail to understand the difference. The words either and both come under this category.

Either vs Both - What's the difference?

Either and both are two different words and have different meanings and usage. They are used in different contexts and can never be used interchangeably.

Either is mainly used when discussing one or the other of two options. With either, we indicate the selection of one out of two. This is basically the conjunction function of the word. Further, it can also work as an adverb and means as well. And as a pronoun, it can mean both, as in each of two.

For example:

  • It is either the wood or the plastic that makes the table.
  • Either Mary or Maria is going to pass the test.

On the other hand, both is used when we refer to the first and the second element or option together. That means we select all the options and not just one.

For example:

  • Both Mary and Maria went to attend the exams today.
  • Both friends can help fix the table.

Finally, we can say that both is used with a plural noun. Either is used with or, while both is used with and. These are the basic differences between the two.

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