Either vs. Any

When to use 'any' instead of 'either'? That’s a common question asked by English learners. To know the answer follow the article.

"Either" vs. "Any" in the English Grammar

What Are their Main Differences?

These words refer to only one choice, but there are slight differences between them. Actually, the main difference is that 'either' is used to refer to only 'one' choice out of a group of two options, while 'any' is used to refer to only 'one' choice out of a group of more than two options. If you want to learn more about them follow the article.


Interrogative, Affirmative, or Negative Sentences?

  • 'Either':

is used in negative sentences with negative verbs when it is used to agree with a statement that was mentioned earlier. In other functions, for example, when it refers to one of the two things, it can also be used in affirmative sentences.

"She is not in charge of this company. I am not either."

Either blend of color is suitable for this hat.

  • 'Any':

is used in interrogative, negative, and positive sentences. 'Any' can have the same meaning as each to refer to only one thing in positive sentences, while it means a small amount or number when it is used in negative or interrogative sentences.

There are not any books on the shelves.

Are there any pens in your pencil case?

You can have any room to stay the night in.

Nouns That Follow 'Either' and 'Any'

  • 'Either':

is followed only by a singular countable noun. It means we cannot use uncountable or plural nouns after it.

Either policy will not work for them.

Either gender is respectable.

  • 'Any':

can be followed by all kinds of nouns in different situations. In negative and interrogative sentences it can be used before uncountable or plural countable nouns, but in positive sentences, it is mostly used before singular countable nouns.

One can have any impression of him.

Here, 'impression' is a singular countable noun.

There is not any milk left in the glass.

Here, 'milk' is an uncountable noun.

There are not any students in the class room.

Here, 'students' is a plural countable noun.


Grammatical Functions

  • 'Either':

can act like both determiner and pronoun. As a determiner, 'either' is used before singular nouns to define them, and as a pronoun, it is used directly before verbs with no nouns after 'either.' 'Either' as an adverb is used to agree with a sentence that was said before.

Either house is enormous for us. → determiner

"Which one is your favorite?" "Either is a disaster." → pronoun

  • 'Any':

can act as both a determiner and a pronoun. As a determiner, it is used before singular or plural countable and uncountable nouns to define them, and as a pronoun, it is used alone before the verbs.

Are there any markers in the class? → determiner

"Who has some sugar? I want to drink coffee." "Sorry, I don't have any." → pronoun

She does not like the history teacher. I don't either.

'Any' as an Adverb

'Any' as an adverb is used before adjectives and adverbs to mean at all especially in American English.

Apologizing cannot make it any good.

This chair is not any comfortable.

'Either of' and 'Any of'

  • 'Either':

is followed by 'of' when it is used before noun phrases or pronouns. Remember whether the noun is plural or not, the verb after either is used in the singular form.

Either of these girls is beautiful.

Either of her talents was noted when she was in first grade.

  • 'Any':

is followed by 'of' when it is used before noun phrases or pronouns. 'Any of' is followed by either singular or plural verb. Using a plural verb is less formal and using a singular verb is more formal and technically correct.

I do not believe any of your words.

If any of my friends wants to come, they are welcome.

'Any' as a Pronoun or Determiner

'Any' as a pronoun is more likely to be plural, while as a determiner, it refers to individuals and it is singular, but it is not a strict rule and it can be flexible depending on what the speaker or writer means.

Is any of the ice-creams left?

Pick any you like that are on the table.


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