This post seeks to resolve doubts surrounding the use of either and neither.
The first thing to resolve is the issue of pronunciation, either and neither can be pronouns two ways and they are both equally correct. For example, either can be pronounced either/neither /eye/ o either/neither /ee/ as in the letter E in the alphabet.
Either litterally means any or both. We can use it in a fixed phrase “Either” or “Either of them”. These just mean that I don´t mind, any will do. We often use the phrase either… or. An example sentence with this would be “I want either a tea or a coffee”. We usually use either when there is a choice between one thing or another.
We can also use either at the end of a sentence in an informal fashion. For instance, “I don´t like eating fish either”. This shows that you have something in common with someone. Neither you nor the other person like fish.
Neither means none. We use it as a fixed phrase “Neither” or “Neither of them”. These just mean that O do not want any of them, none of the options. We often use the phrase neither… nor. For example, “I didn´t order anything to drink because I wanted neither beer nor red wine”.
We cannot use neither with a negative sentence. This is because neither has a negative meaning and it would make a double negative, which is impossible. It is not correct to use “I do not want nothing”. We would use “I don´t want anything”. This is why we would use “I want neither of them” and not, “I do not want neither of them”. It would also be correct to say, “I do not want either of them”.
Practice speaking questions:
- Do you want to learn either French or German?
- I like tennis and rugby, do you like either of these sports?
- Do you like playing chess either?