either/neither

  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hello!

    Either is used when you have a choice between two (or several) items, your choice is in a positive sense, and you link the choices with "or":
    You may wear either the red shirt or the blue one.

    Neither is also used when you are expressing negativity about the choices and you will use "nor" between the choices: neither means "not either one":
    But I like neither the red shirt nor the blue one. I want the yellow shirt!
     

    xpsal

    New Member
    English/ Arabic/French/Spanish/German
    Also in addition to what Kelly said, there is a common mistake that english learners and sometimes even advanced learners fall into (the double negative)
    my mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and my dad neither (wrong sentence)
    my mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and my dad either (right sentence)
    we used either here even if the sentence is negative because we already used a negative in the first part of the sentence (..mother doesn't...) and it's wrong to use two negatives in a sentence.
    there is an other way of saying the sentence above which is :
    neither my mom nor my dad wants/want me to become an artist. note that you can use either the singular or plural for the verb (want).
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Kelly B said:
    Hello!

    Either is used when you have a choice between two (or several) items, your choice is in a positive sense, and you link the choices with "or":
    You may wear either the red shirt or the blue one.

    Neither is also used when you are expressing negativity about the choices and you will use "nor" between the choices: neither means "not either one":
    But I like neither the red shirt nor the blue one. I want the yellow shirt!

    Kelly is absolutely correct and clear.

    In addition, you may use "either" without the connecting "or".

    Example:

    Question:"May I take the big dog out to play, or do I have to take the little dog?"
    Answer: "Either one, just so long as you take one of them with you."

    Likewise with the negative "neither"....

    Question: "Do you want to wash the dinner dishes or the baby's diapers?"
    Answer: "Neither, I want to sit on the sofa and watch dreadful television programs and eat bon-bons."
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Thanks!

    I don't entirely agree with xpsal's statement:
    my mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and my dad neither (wrong sentence)

    I would use neither here, but with a different word order:
    My mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and neither does my dad.

    Rather than a double negative, I view the "neither" here as similar to the use of nor. I'd like to hear other opinions.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Kelly B said:
    Thanks!

    I don't entirely agree with xpsal's statement:
    my mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and my dad neither (wrong sentence)

    I would use neither here, but with a different word order:
    My mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and neither does my dad.

    Rather than a double negative, I view the "neither" here as similar to the use of nor. I'd like to hear other opinions.

    I completely agree with you.

    I would say NEITHER ;) "my dad either" NOR "my dad neither" - they sound equally awkward.

    I would definitely say "My mother doesn't want me to become an artist, and neither does my dad."

    This is not a double negative because the "neither" belongs to a different clause/verb.

    A double negative is something like this:

    I don't want to go nowhere.
    He doesn't want to come neither.

    These belong to the same clause/verb and are thus double negatives.

    And lastly, if you say "Neither my mother nor my dad..." you HAVE to say "wants." The verb has to be singular; that's the rule.
     

    xpsal

    New Member
    English/ Arabic/French/Spanish/German
    :eek: you guys are right! :thumbsup:

    I just wanted to refer to the double negative mistakes which are considered a common mistake, but it seems I gave the wrong examples :eek:
     

    micst

    New Member
    French Canada
    Hi,

    I would like to have some explanations about the use of «me either/me neither». Which one is appropriate to use and in what circumstances

    Thank you
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    micst said:
    Hi,

    I would like to have some explanations about the use of «me either/me neither». Which one is appropriate to use and in what circumstances

    Thank you

    "me either" and "me neither" are used for "neither <verb> I"

    Beavis: "I ain't gonna eat no steamed broccoli!"
    Butt-Head: "Me neither." or "Me either".

    Charles: "I am not going to eat any steamed broccoli."
    Lucinda: "Neither am I." or "I am not going to eat any either."

    "me either" used this way is not refined English.

    "me neither" is a bit sloppy, but frequently heard.
     

    micst

    New Member
    French Canada
    Thank you

    But, in the first example, since the first person said «I ain't gonna eat no steamed broccoli» the answer «Me either» would not signify that the second person will eat steamed brocoli?
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    But, in the first example, since the first person said «I ain't gonna eat no steamed broccoli» wouldn't the answer «Me either» would not signify that the second person will eat steamed brocoli?

    Yes, micst, technically "I ain't gonna eat no steamed broccoli" means "I will eat some steamed broccoli" because the two negatives cancel out. However, it's not uncommon for people to forget that rule or to use the double-negative colloquially as a form of emphasis. Beavis definitely means "Keep your stinkin' broccoli to yourself." ;)
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    micst said:
    Thank you

    But, in the first example, since the first person said «I ain't gonna eat no steamed broccoli» the answer «Me either» would not signify that the second person will eat steamed brocoli?

    In the language of the Butt-head and Beavis-types, the tag "Me either." = "Me neither.".
    Something to recognise, but not to imitate.
     
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