If you want to know when to use either or neither, I’ll teach you the difference with lots of examples! We’ll also look at either/or and neither/nor.
How to use EITHER
When we have two options, the word either means only one of the two (but not the other):
You can have either chocolate ice cream or vanilla – which one would you like?
Come visit on either Monday or Wednesday.
If he’s not in his office, he’s either in the bathroom or out to lunch.
When someone offers you a choice between two things, and you don’t care which one is chosen, you can respond with “Either one.”
“Would you like coffee or tea?”
“Either one. Whatever everyone else is having.”
“We have these two photos, which one do you want to use in the brochure?”
“Either one. They both look good to me.”
How to use NEITHER
Not either and neither both mean NOT one thing, and NOT the other thing:
I don’t speak either French or Spanish.
= I speak neither French nor Spanish.
I don’t speak either of those languages.
= I speak neither of those languages.
As you can see in the example sentences, we use
- not – either – or and neither – nor when naming the two items specifically
- not – either of and neither of when saying the two items together as a group.
Here are more examples:
Neither my mother nor my father likes to travel.
= Neither of my parents likes to travel.
Neither the first book nor the second book was very good.
= Neither of the books was very good.
= Neither book was very good.
When the two things are of the same type – as in two books – we can say neither of the books or neither book.
When someone offers you a choice between two things, and you dislike both or you don’t want the first thing or the second thing, you can respond with “Neither” or “Neither one.”
“Do you want a sandwich or a piece of pizza?”
“Neither. I’m actually not hungry at all.”
“Which of these two candidates do you think is better for the job?”
“Neither one. We need somebody more experienced.”
NOT EITHER and NEITHER for “also not”
When somebody makes a negative statement (a statement with the word “not” in it), you can use not either / neither to say “also not.”
The structure of the reply is a little different, depending on which one you use:
“I can’t swim.”
“I can’t either.” = “Neither can I.” = “Me neither” (informal)
“Kate didn’t come to class today.”
“Bob didn’t either.” = “Neither did Bob.”
“We haven’t booked our tickets yet.”
“We haven’t either.” = “Neither have we.”
Pronunciation of either and neither
Both either and neither have two possible pronunciations:
Pronunciation #1 – EITHER
Pronunciation #2 – EITHER
Pronunciation #1 – NEITHER
Pronunciation #2 – NEITHER
All forms are correct.