Both - Either - Neither

English Grammar


We use both, either and neither to refer to two people or things.

BOTH

Both = the two; that one AND the other one; this one AND that one

Both can be used as a pronoun to refer to two things that we have already mentioned.

Both X and Y

= not only X but also Y

Both + Adjective + and + Adjective

Both + Noun + and + Noun

Both can be used with a singular noun + and + singular noun

We can also use Both + plural noun (see more below)

Both or Both of?

Both or Both of can be used without a difference in meaning though Both of is more common in the United States.

Both (of) + determiner + plural noun

You can use Both or Both of before a determiner (my, his, these, the etc.) and a plural noun.

When we use Both (without of), we drop the article the.

Both of + Object Pronoun

When using Both with an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us them), we need the preposition OF before that pronoun.

Verb + Object pronoun + both

We can use both after an object pronoun

To be + both

Both comes after To Be (or an auxiliary such as have or modal verbs).

Modal verb + both + verb

Both + other verbs

Both goes before the other verbs. If there is an accompanying auxiliary verb, then it goes in the middle of the two verbs (i.e. auxiliary + both + verb)

Both - Negative

We don’t use both in negative structures. Instead, we normally use Neither.

See more about Neither below:



NEITHER

Neither = not one and not the other
Neither is a negative word and is accompanied by an affirmative singular verb.

Neither X nor Y

Neither … nor … is used as a conjunction. It is the opposite of “Both … and …” If a verb comes after this phrase, that verb is in the singular form (Sometimes you will hear it used in the plural form though it is not grammatically correct)

Neither + singular noun

Neither is used as a determiner before a single noun.

Neither of + determiner + plural noun

You can use Neither of before a determiner (my, his, these, the etc.) and a plural noun.

Neither of + Pronoun

When using Neither + of + pronoun (you, us, them), we need the preposition OF before that pronoun. (If a verb comes after this phrase then it is in singular form)

Neither in short responses

Neither is frequently used as part of a short response when someone says something negative and you agree with them.

See more about So, Neither and Either as short answers

Neither can also be used alone.

Neither vs. Either

You can use Either with a negative verb to replace Neither with a positive verb

See more about Either below.



EITHER

Either = any one of the two = this one or the other one
Either is accompanied by an affirmative singular verb and is mostly used in questions or negative sentences

Either X or Y

Either … or … is used as a conjunction. It is used to express alternatives and or a choice between two (and sometimes more) things. It is used a verb in singular form (Sometimes you will hear it used in the plural form though it is not grammatically correct).

Either + singular noun

Either is used as a determiner before a single noun.

Either of + determiner + plural noun

You can use Either of before a determiner (my, his, these, the etc.) and a plural noun.

Either + of + Pronoun

When using Either + of + object pronoun (you, us, them), we need the preposition OF before that pronoun.

Either can also be used alone. It means it doesn’t matter which alternative. Sometimes it is accompanied by the pronoun “one”.

Either in short responses

Either can be used at the end of a negative sentence when you agree with something negative someone else has said. It is similar to meaning TOO and ALSO (which are used in affirmative sentences).

See more about So, Neither and Either as short answers

Pronunciation of Either and Neither

You will hear the word Either pronounced two different ways:

Both forms of pronunciation are correct and supposedly one is British English and the other American English. However within each country you may hear both forms used.

The same happens with the pronunciation of the word Neither:

Both, Either, Neither Summary Chart

The difference between Both, Either and Neither - English Grammar

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Try our interactive game to practice the difference between Both, Either and Neither.

See more about So, Neither and Either as short answers


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