Posted by Smokey Stover on July 04, 2005
In Reply to: 2 choices posted by Bob on July 01, 2005
: : : : Hello
: : : : What does this term mean (My way or the highway)
: : : : yours
: : : : mohammad
: : : You have two choices. Do it my way or leave.
: : You have hit upon one of my betes-noires. 'Do it my way or leave': isn't that ONE choice? If there are not two (or more) options there is no choice at all.
: : DFG
: Remain here, under my rules ... or don't remain here. You either can tolerate the conditions I have established ... or hit the road, Jack. It's two alternates.
No one appreciates grammatical niceties more than I, even if I'm not so good at displaying them. I know the "two choices" dilemma and the "two alternatives" problem as well. The usage advice that I have found in dictionaries and other places says, basically, forget it. Choice can be construed as the action of choosing, and as the thing chosen. If there are two things between which we can make our ONE choice, then there are TWO available choices. Seems very confused, doesn't it? As for alternates, I think alternative works better. But some argue that the nature of an alternative is to be an alternative for something else, so if we have two things each alternative for the other, which is the alternative? Others remind us that there cannot be three alternatives, since "alter," in that unmentionable language, means "the other," not "the others." Personally I'm not fussy in this regard. Or either of these regards. SS