How to use Neither and Either (Interactive QUIZ too!)

NEITHER
adverbSay that a negative statement is also true for another person/thing “Mike didn’t go to school today and neither did Spencer.
determiner/pronounnot one nor the other of two things or people “Neither answer is correct.” (both answers are wrong) 
EITHER
adverbComes after negative phrases to say that a feeling or situation is similar to one already talked about “Mike can’t go and Spencer can’t either.”
determiner/pronounone or the other of two; it does not matter which “You can park on either side of the street.” (it doesn’t matter which side of the street you park on, both sides are OK)

Definitions from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/

Either and Neither

We will learn how to use Neither and Either in today’s post. In a past post we looked at the phrases me too and me neither and we learned how to use them in natural English conversation. The word either sometimes has a similar meaning to the word neither but they are often confused and used incorrectly. In this lesson, I will explain the difference so you can use these words correctly and with confidence!

Video, QUIZ and infographic link at the bottom of the page!

Either and Neither as adverbs

When both words are used as adverbs the meaning is almost exactly the same:

     ↙(Click the words to hear their pronunciation)
neither (adverb) used to show that a negative statement is also true of somebody/something else

“He didn’t remember and neither did I.”

A: “I don’t like spicy food.” 

B: “Me neither.”

either (adverb) used after negative phrases to state that a feeling or situation is similar to one already mentioned

“Pete can’t go and I can’t either.”


A: “I don’t like spicy food.” 

B: “Me either.” 
*For me personally, I prefer using neither in this situation, but either is acceptable in informal North American English.

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Either and Neither as determiners or pronouns

When both words are used as determiners or pronouns they have different meanings:

neither (determiner, pronoun) not one nor the other of two things or people
Neither answer is correct.” (both answers are wrong)

A: “Which do you like?”

B: “Neither. I think they’re both ugly.” (I don’t like the first choice, I also don’t like the second choice)

neither of them has a car

either (determiner, pronoun) one or the other of two; it does not matter which

“You can park on either side of the street.” (it doesn’t matter which side of the street you park on, both sides are OK)

“You can keep one of the photos. Either of them—whichever you like.” (you can choose one of the two photos to keep, it
doesn’t matter which one. Each of the two possible choices is OK)

~ each of two
“The offices on either side of the hall were empty.” (the offices on the left side and the right side of the hall were both empty)

*One small grammar mistake in the video. The 2nd image should say “Neither of them has a car.” The correct grammar is in the image above. Thanks to a YouTube subscriber for finding that!

Try my EITHER or NEITHER interactive quiz!

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4 comments

  1. I was taught: “Each” means one and the other. “Either” means one or the other.
    “There are parking spaces on each side to the street.” That is, left and right, or North and South, etc.
    “You can park on either side of the street.” That is, left or right, but not both at the same time.

    • When EITHER is used as a pronoun your meaning is correct. The adverb EITHER is often confused with the adverb NEITHER, that is what this post tries to clarify. Thanks for your COMMENT!

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