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02 / 05 / 2005

NEITHER / EITHER / BOTH (1): meaning and examples

Good morning. I hope you had a good weekend. This week we are going to answer a request from Montse F. Montse wrote: I am sometimes in doubt about the use of neither and either. You are not alone, Montse! These two words are similar in meaning, and so they cause confusion. To really understand how they are used, we should also look at the word both. The words neither, either and both are used in complementary situations. NEITHER-EITHER-BOTH --> They are used to refer to two things in different ways. --> They are usually used with a NOUN: neither-either-both NOUN Examples: There are two books. --> Neither book is interesting. (= Book A is NOT interesting. Book B is NOT interesting.) --> We can read either book. Either book is fine by me. (= We can read Book A or Book B. It doesn't matter.) --> Both books are interesting. (= Book A is interesting and book B is interesting.) GENERALISATIONS As you can see from the examples above, the following generalisations can be made: 1) NEITHER singular noun (BOOK) and singular verb form (IS) 2) EITHER singular noun (BOOK) and singular verb form (IS). 3) BOTH plural noun (BOOKS) and plural verb form (ARE) 4) NEITHER has a negative meaning (NOT). 5) EITHER gives us an option (OR). 6) BOTH has an inclusive meaning (AND). Tomorrow we will look at some other ways to use neither / either / both. If you have any questions so far, please don't hesitate to contact me. Enjoy the rest of your day!