Welcome to the fourth article of the series where we discuss common English mistakes and how to improve your English. This time, we’re going to learn grammar by examining the uses of either and neither. It’s very important to understand the difference between the two so we know when to use them in a sentence.
- Either: one or the other. (Affirmative)
- Neither: not one nor the other, none. (Negative)
Uses of Either
- The conjunction either … or is used to indicate that a selection must be made between two different things:
You can have either coffee or tea.
- Either … or can be used to imply an ultimatum:
Either you eat now, or I’ll tell your mother!
- Either can be followed by one or a combination of these set of words: one + of + you/us/them (referring to a group of two):
Either one could do it.
Either one of us could do it.
Either of us could do it.
- The conjunction not … either … or is used to indicate that two possibilities both have negative outcomes:
I don’t think that either Rachel or Ross will be there.
- The conjunction not … either is used after a negative sentence to indicate similarity with that sentence:
I don’t speak Italian. You don’t, either.
He isn’t ready to go. We aren’t, either.
Uses of Neither
- The conjunction neither … nor is used to indicate that out of two or more options, none is possible:
He drinks neither coffee nor tea.
“He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.”
Incorrect: “I speak neither French or German.”
Correct: “I speak neither French nor German.”
- Neither can be used before one or a combination of the following set of words: one + of + you/us/them (referring to a group of two):
Neither one is ready.
Neither one of them is ready.
Neither of them is ready.
- Neither can also be used to mean not … either:
You don’t speak Italian. Neither do I.
(informal): Me neither.
He isn’t ready to go. Neither are we.
That’s all for today’s lesson! Keep reading our blog for more tips on how to improve your English and grammar.