Either or all

Yama, I like your question.  

But if I were you, I would ask for help the way below.

Q: I don't like……of the shirts.

     A. either  B. neither  C.all

My understanding is:

A means that there are two shirts and I don't like them at all. I like neither of them.

B seems awkward to me. Does it work both gramatically and logically? If it does, then it must mean "I like both of the shirts."

C means there are more than two shirts, but I only like some of them, not all of them.

Am I right? Please correct me if I misunderstand.

Thanks!

ruifeng posted:

But if I were you, I would ask for help the way below.

Q: I don't like……of the shirts.

     A. either  B. neither  C.all

My understanding is:

A means that there are two shirts and I don't like them at all. I like neither of them.

B seems awkward to me. Does it work both gramatically and logically? If it does, then it must mean "I like both of the shirts."

C means there are more than two shirts, but I only like some of them, not all of them.

Am I right? Please correct me if I misunderstand.

Hello, Yama and Ruifeng,

Ruifeng, your understanding of (A) and (C) is correct. "I don't like either of the shirts" means that there are two shirts and I dislike both of them. "I don't like all of the shirts" means that more than two shirts are involved and it is not the case that I like all of them; this is compatible with my liking some of them.

Thus, both (A) and (C) are grammatically correct. Sentence (B), however, is ungrammatical. That is where you have gone astray, Ruifeng. That sentence doesn't work at all. One can say, "I like neither of the shirts," but one cannot say, *"I don't like neither of the shirts." "Neither" must be changed to "either."

Regarding (C), it takes a special context. It could be used, for example, if you were shopping with someone else for shirts and had set aside a pile of them. If the person you were shopping with assumed, mistakenly, that you intended to buy all of the shirts in the pile you could say: "I don't like all of the shirts."

"All" is emphasized in that sentence. Option (C) really does require special stress on "all." A native speaker would not say "I don't like all of the shirts" without emphasizing "all." If you wish the sentence to mean that you dislike all of the shirts, you must change "all" to "any": "I don't like any of the shirts."

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