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How to Use Neither and Either

 

The words "neither" and "either" are often confused by English learners around the globe. The word "either" sometimes has a similar meaning as the word "neither" but they are often used incorrectly. Below, we take a look at the differences so you can use (and teach!) these words correctly and with confidence.

Grammar Corner How to Use Neither and Either

 

NEITHER
adverb Say that a negative statement is also true for another person/thing “Sally didn’t go to work today and neither did Julia.
determiner/pronoun not one nor the other of two things or people “Neither answer is correct.” (both answers are wrong) 
EITHER
adverb Comes after negative phrases to say that a feeling or situation is similar to one already talked about “Sally can’t go and Julia can’t either.”
determiner/pronoun one or the other of two; it does not matter which “You can park on either side of the street.” (it doesn’t matter which side of the street you park on, both sides are OK)

 

"Either" and "neither" as Adverbs

When both words are used as adverbs the meaning is almost exactly the same:

neither (adverb) used to show that a negative statement is also true of somebody/something else, for example:

 

“She didn’t remember to bring an umbrella and neither did I.”

 

A: “I don’t like mushrooms.”

B: “Me neither.”

 

either (adverb) used after negative phrases to state that a feeling or situation is similar to one already mentioned, such as

“Sylvia can’t come and I can’t either.”

 

A: “I don’t like mushrooms.”

B: “Me either.”

*Both "neither" and "either" are acceptable in informal North American English.

 

"Either" and "neither" as determiners or pronouns

When both words are used as determiners or pronouns they have different meanings:

neither (determiner, pronoun) not one nor the other of two things or people, for example

“Neither answer is correct.” (both answers are wrong)

 

A: “Which sweater do you like?”

B: “Neither. I think they’re both ugly.”

(I don’t like the first sweater, I also don’t like the second sweater)

 

either (determiner, pronoun) one or the other of two; it does not matter which, such as

“You can park on either side of the street.”

(it doesn’t matter which side of the street you park on, both sides are OK)

 

“You can keep one of the tickets. Either of them—whichever you like.”

(you can choose one of the two tickets to keep, it doesn’t matter which one. Each of the two possible choices is OK)

 

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