Either, Neither Correct Usage - Learn English Grammar With Free English Lessons

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In this lesson we’ll learn how to use ‘either’ and ‘neither’ in a conversation without getting confused.


June: People often get confused with ‘either’ and ‘neither’ while speaking in English. The first thing is to know the basic difference between the two for better understanding.

Troy: That’s right, June. Basically, ‘either’ is used to offer a choice between two possibilities. Whereas, ‘neither’ is similar to ‘not’ or ‘nor’. It excludes an idea or option.

June: That’s absolutely correct, Troy. For example: ‘We should bring either coffee or tea.’

Here the speaker is making a choice between coffee and tea.

Troy: Here’s an example of neither: ‘He speaks neither English nor French.’ This denotes that the speaker is talking about a third person who cannot speak English or French.

June: That’s right. ‘Either’ can also be used to denote possibilities. For example: I don't think either Mike or Lisa will be there.

Troy: Right. ‘Neither’ can also be used to start a sentence or answer a question. For example: Neither one of them is ready.

June: You must notice that ‘either’ is used when the verb is in the negative. For example: He doesn't want either of those balls.

Troy: Yes, June. Remember that ‘neither’ is used to exclude an idea, object, or opinion. For example: If you don't do it yourself, no one will help you. Neither would I. (I exclude myself from the list of people who will help you).

June: Let’s see some sample conversations.

Conversation #1

Tsering: Let’s eat out this evening.

Denise: Where do you want to go?

Tsering: I’ve heard there are two new restaurants in town. We can go to either of them.

Denise: Okay. But...are you sure about the food quality?

Tsering: Our neighbors told me that the food in both restaurants is equally good.

Denise: I don’t think they have been to either of the restaurants yet.

Tsering: How does that matter? Let’s go and check for ourselves.

Conversation #2

Frank: Who was the girl you were talking to in the cafeteria?

Grant: She was my classmate in school.

Frank: Is your friend British or American?

Grant: Neither. She’s Australian.

Frank: Is she new in New York?

Grant: Don't know. I neither asked nor she told me.

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