Either, neither, both

One of the tricky things about eitherneither and both is knowing if they should be followed by singular or plural nouns and verbs.

The table below explains either, neither and both, and the rules for what should follow them.

Either, neither, both
We use either, neither and both when we are talking about two things.
either = one OR the other > Would you like tea or coffee?
> Either. I don't mind.
This means: 'You can give me tea OR coffee. I have no preference.'
neither = not one and not the other > Would you like ham or beef in your sandwich?
> Neither. I am a vegetarian. I don't eat meat.
This means: 'I don't want ham and I don't want beef.'
both = the first AND the second I take both milk and sugar in my coffee.
This means: 'I take sugar. I also take milk.'
We use either with a singular noun.
We use either of with a plural noun.

We use either and either of with a singular verb.
either car, either person
either of the chairs, either of the people

Either day is fine for me.
Either of the days is fine for me.
We use neither with a singular noun.
We use neither of with a plural noun.

We use neither and neither of with a singular verb.
neither house, neither man
neither of the houses, neither of the men

Neither day was suitable.
Neither of the days was suitable.
We use both with a plural noun.

We use both with a plural verb.
both houses, both men
both of the houses, both of the men

Both (of) my brothers are tall.
We need of before the pronouns us, you, them. both of us, both of you, either of them, neither of them, etc.
Between of and a noun we need to use these, those or my, your, John's, etc., or the. both of those houses, neither of my brothers, both of John's sisters, either of the cinemas

See also: Correlative conjunctions: neither . . . nor, either . . . or, both . . . and, . . .

1 Comment

  1. Memorized my reading ;) « Parnurzeal’s Weblog - January 24, 2013, 7:27 am Reply

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