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Business English Vocabulary Builder: Powerful Idioms, Sayings and Expressions

Understanding the Differences Between Either, Neither, Either.....Or, and Neither....Nor is Essential.

Understanding the Differences Between Either, Neither, Either.....Or, and Neither...Nor is Essential.

Understanding the Differences Between Either, Neither, Either.....Or, and Neither...Nor is Essential.


The phrases Either/or and Neither/nor are central parts of the English language. They are essential components of the English language. This article will explain these terms and provide examples for their use.

Struggling to figure out when to use either/or and neither/nor? You are not the only one! These word pairs can be confusing, but don't despair: this article is here to provide an explanation. We will look at grammar rules, example sentences, and more - so let's get started! Read on below.

Explanation Either/or and neither/nor.


Either and neither can be used in a number of ways. They can be used as adverbs, adjectives, determiners, pronouns, or correlative conjunctions. For example:

"Do either of you speak Korean?" 

In this sentence, either is used as a pronoun.

Neither skirt fits me properly.” ("None of the skirts fit me.")

In this sentence, neither is an adjective.

"Either" is used in the same sentence as "or" to indicate two or more possibilities or choices. For example:

"You can choose either the white car or the blue car." (You can choose a red car or a blue car).

"Neither" is used in the same sentence as "nor" to indicate something that is not true or does not occur from two or more people, actions, things, ideas, or qualities. For example:

"Neither Mr. John nor Mrs. Ralph came to the meeting." (Neither Mr. Smith nor Mrs. Jones came to the meeting).

Tips: When using Either/or and Neither/nor, it is important to pay attention to the verb you use in the sentence. Specifically, when both subjects of the sentence are singular, then a singular verb must be used. For example, this could look like "Either my mother or my father is coming".

 "Either my mother or my sisters are coming." "Are" is the plural verb in this sentence.

Either can be a determiner, pronoun, adverb, or conjunction.


Either as a determinant


Either refers to two choices or possibilities.

The word 'either' is often used to refer to two choices or options that exist. It must always be followed by a singular countable noun when used as a determiner before the noun.

Actually, I don't like either sweater

No: … I don't like either sweater.

Either restaurant will be okay, as they both serve western food. (It doesn't matter which of the two restaurants you go to.)

Either of


Either must be followed by of if we use it before the these, those, or possessive pronouns (my, your) with plural nouns:

Either of the children can come with us; we don't mind which.

I don't want either of my parents to know I've lost my job.

no: I don't want either my parents …

Either means 'both'


The word either as a determiner before a singular countable noun can mean 'both':

There were shops on either side of the street. (There are shops on both sides of the road).



Either as a pronoun


We can use either as a pronoun:

A: Which sweater do you like, the red one or the blue one?

B: I don't like either. (I don't like the green one and I don't like the blue one.)


A: What color paper do you want, white or cream?

B: Either. It doesn't matter.


Either as an adverb


We can use either as an adverb after a negative verb:

It was a really nice hotel, and it wasn't very expensive either.

She doesn't like eggs and she doesn't like fish either.


Either as a conjunction


We can use either as a conjunction to connect two clauses:

Either we go by train or we rent a car. Which do you prefer?





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