Difference between Either and Neither

Key Difference: Either means ‘one of the two’, while neither means ‘none of the choices available.’

English is a difficult and confusing language for a person that is not a native English speaker. There are many words that have similar meaning but look different, while other words look similar but mean completely different things. Though, either and neither may look similar in spelling, both of the words are different in terms of usage and meaning.

Either can be used as an adjective, pronoun, conjunction and adverb. It can be used to refer to any one of the choices from the given. Another meaning of the word can put the word in negative clauses, used in place of too or also. The term has been originated from Old English word ‘ǣghwæther’ meaning “both, each”. The most common usage of either is used to refer to refer to any one of the two choices that are given.

Dictionary.com defines ‘either’ as:

Adjective

  • one or the other of two
  • each of two; the one and the other

Pronoun

  • one or the other

Conjunction

  • a coordinating conjunction that, when preceding a word or statement followed by the disjunctive or,  serves to emphasize the possibility of choice: Either come or write.

Adverb

  • also; too; as well; to the same degree (used after negative clauses coordinated by and, or,  or nor,  or after negative subordinate clauses)

Examples of ‘either’:

  • There are trees on either side of the river.
  • You may sit at either end of the table.
  • There are two roads into the town, and you can take either.
  • Either of the pencils will do.
  • He's not fond of parties, and I'm not either.
  • If you don't come, she won't come either.
  • Either you leave me alone or I will call the police.
  • We should bring either coffee or tea.

Neither differs from either in the sense that neither means none of the choices that were given. Neither can also be used as a conjunction, adjective and a pronoun. Neither is considered to a negative and is also paired with nor in many “neither this nor that” cases. A thing to remember is whenever neither is used, the verb that is used with it should be in singular. The term ‘neither’ is derived from Middle English words “nauther and nother”.

Dictionary.com defines ‘neither’ as:

Conjunction

  • not either, as of persons or things specified (usually followed by nor )
  • nor; nor yet; no more

Adjective

  • not either; not the one or the other

Pronoun

  • not either; not one person or the other; not one thing or the other

Examples of ‘neither’:

  • Neither John nor Betty is at home.
  • Bob can't go, and neither can I.
  • If she doesn't want it, neither do I.
  • Neither of the statement is true.
  • Neither of the suggestions will do.
  • Neither one of them is to be trusted.
  • I will neither help you nor go to my room.
  • I don't speak Spanish. Neither do I.

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