Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you Prominent, Eminent or Either or Neither?

Let's remember that eminent differs from prominent in meaning in an important way that is often ignored, or unknown these days. The first word characterizes one who ranks high in his profession or office; the second, one who stands out from others. Prominent men are not all eminent, but eminent men may be prominent.

Now, either, means "one of two," "one or the other," and "the one and the other." The word, as defined, is an adjective or pronoun, as in "Either one of them might go to the convention." When it is employed as a disjunctive conjunction either is always used as a correlative to and proceeding or (the other), that is "either the one or the other."

Neither, on the other hand, means "not either" or "also not" as in, "It benefited neither you nor me to go to the convention," certainly not "It benefited neither you nor I to go to the convention."

Let's keep it grammatically clean. Misuse of either of these groups of words costs one dollar per misuse and can be mailed directly to me. Email me at suzy.squirrel@gmail.com for my address.

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