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Lesson 12.1

Either vs. Neither

Either vs. Neither
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“Either” and “neither” can be used as pronouns, determiners or adverbs. See below for an explanation of the differences between these two words.


Either” implies a choice between two possible options. Note that the preposition “or” is used between the two options.


 We can go to either the beach or the swimming pool.
 Either we wait for the rain to stop or we must change our plans.


Neither” indicates agreement between two negative ideas. With “neither”, the two ideas are separated by the preposition “nor”.


 Neither Henry nor Chris want to go to the beach.
 Neither the school nor the parents want to take responsibility for the problem.
Note: When we want to indicate agreement between two affirmative ideas, we use “both”.


 Both my parents work at the hospital.
 Both teams are preparing for the championship.

Grammatical Rules

In function as a pronoun

When “either” or “neither” are used as a pronoun, they are followed by the preposition “of” as well as a noun phrase.


 Neither of the students studied very hard.
 Either of my assistants can do it. Who do you prefer?

In function as an adverb

When used as an adverb, “either” and “neither” function like connectors in negative sentences. Note the structural differences between the two.


 Greg can’t eat fish because he is allergic and neither can I.
 Greg can’t eat fish because he is allergic and I can’t either.

In function as a determiner

As determiners, “either” and “neither” are found directly before the noun.


 I don’t know, neither color really suits you.
 Either job could be interesting.
Note: There is quite a bit of confusion regarding the use of the singular or the plural with these words. As a rule, if the two parts are in singular, we use the singular and if the one of the two or both the parts are in plural, we use the plural.


 Either my sister or my brother is going to get their own bedroom, but I still have to share.
 Neither the dress or the shoes are appropriate for the party.
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