30th December 2022
Grammar Tips: How to Use Neither/Either and Nor/Or Correctly
Neither/nor and either/or are pairs of words that many people struggle with, especially if English isn’t their native language. These words can be used in many different ways, so it’s easy to get mixed up. In this post, we’ll explain how to use them correctly in your writing.
Using Neither and Either on Their Own
“Neither” is the negative counterpart of “either.” By themselves, these words can be used as adverbs, determiners, or pronouns. Let’s look at some examples of each part of speech.
As adverbs, “neither” and “either” show a similarity or denote having something in common. They’re usually used when one negative statement correlates to another. Adverbs describe verbs, so these words describe a commonality about a verb. For example:
“I don’t like running.” “Neither do I.”
As determiners, “either” and “neither” work as quantifiers – they describe how much of something is being described. “Either” indicates a choice between two possibilities, and “neither” makes a negative statement about two things. The nouns that follow them must be countable. For example:
Neither side of the road has free parking.
As pronouns, “either” and “neither” have meanings similar to when they are used as determiners. Many determiners, in fact, can function as pronouns. The key difference between determiners and pronouns is that determiners must be followed by a noun, while pronouns can take the place of the noun. For example:
“Can we substitute oil or applesauce for the butter?” “No, neither will work.”
Using Neither/Either with Nor/Or
“Neither” and “either” take the form of conjunctions when they are used with “nor” and “or.” The word pairs are used to show a choice between two things. “Neither” and “either” come before nouns, and “nor” and “or” are placed between nouns. For example:
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Either the pink or the white dress will look nice.
Using Nor/Or on Their Own
“Nor” and “or” are conjunctions that can also be used by themselves to indicate a connection between two things. You can connect two negative clauses with “nor” and two positive ones with “or.” For example:
You can come over to my house, or we can meet at the park.
Summary: Using Neither/Either and Nor/Or
We hope this post helped to clear up any confusion you might have about using “neither,” “nor,” “either,” and “or.” Remember, “neither” and “nor” are used with negative statements, while “either” and “or” are their positive counterparts.
“Neither” and “either” are usually used before a noun or noun phrase or in place of a noun themselves, while “nor” and “or” are always placed between two nouns or statements.
If you need help with your word choice, grammar, spelling, or anything in between, we’re here for you! Submit a free 500-word sample to try out our service today.
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