Welcome to twominenglish.com. Teaching you English through two-minute lessons.
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.
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.
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.