Hi, everyone,
Do you think the following sentences are all grammatical? Thanks. Ray
(1) a. I need a book or something.
b. I need either a book or something.
c. I need a book or something else.
d. I need either a book or something else.
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Hi, everyone, Do you think the following sentences are all grammatical? Thanks. Ray (1) a. I need a book ... book or something. c. I need a book or something else. d. I need either a book or something else.

They're all good except b, which doesn't work on its own. It's like saying 'I'll ask either John or someone'. John IS someone. A book IS something.
Sentence a, which you may think has the same fault, is perfect, idiomatic English, though it suggests that the person to whom you are speaking already knows what you are trying to accomplish.
Sentence c is unusual. Grammatically it's fine, but it sounds a little incomplete.
Sentence d is perfect.
Peter
(1) a. I need a book or something. b. I ... else. d. I need either a book or something else.

They're all good except b, which doesn't work on its own. It's like saying 'I'll ask either John or someone'. ... English, though it suggests that the person to whom you are speaking already knows what you are trying to accomplish.

But that does not explain why a is OK and b is not.

I have no definitive answer, but my reckoning is that a is heard as elliptical for "I need a book or something (else, something that is not a book)"; it is harder to hear b that way because the "either" makes it read as "I need either X or not-X", which seems a silly proposition.

Cordially,
Eric Walker, Owlcroft House
http://owlcroft.com/english /
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They're all good except b, which doesn't work on its ... are speaking already knows what you are trying to accomplish.

But that does not explain why a is OK and b is not.

I know. I did attempt an explanation, but deleted it.
I have no definitive answer, but my reckoning is that a is heard as elliptical for "I need a book or something (else, something that is not a book)";

Yes. I agree. I wrote something very similar.
it is harder to hear b that way because the "either" makes it read as "I need either X or not-X", which seems a silly proposition.

I'm not sure that's silly. Don't all four read as that?

I think both a and b are elliptical but b is an awkward halfway house with either a word too many or a word too few. Sentence a is informal. The formal 'either' in b leads one to expect something more formal than 'something'.
P.
They're all good except b, which doesn't work on its ... are speaking already knows what you are trying to accomplish.

But that does not explain why a is OK and b is not.

Well, I use variations of a all the time. I think it's an idiom. That's where I got it and I think everyone understands it. But b sounds excessive. "or" implies either.
I have no definitive answer, but my reckoning is that a is heard as elliptical for "I need a book ... that way because the "either" makes it read as "I need either X or not-X", which seems a silly proposition.

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
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They're all good except b, which doesn't work on its ... are speaking already knows what you are trying to accomplish.

But that does not explain why a is OK and b is not. I have no definitive answer, but my ... that way because the "either" makes it read as "I need either X or not-X", which seems a silly proposition.

I often find myself and others ending similar sentences with "or something". I think I mean "or something like that". In the context used by others who do this, "or something like that" also makes sense. With this interpretation, examples a and b both sound fine to me. Both of the last two could be replaced by "I need something, perhaps a book."

Bill in Kentucky
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