Friday, December 7, 2007

Confusing Words

EITHER - NEITHER - TOO

Either indicates a choice between two alternatives. Neither combines two negative ideas. Study the following examples of use:

Which of these apples would you prefer?
I don't want either of them, thanks.

You can either have the £15 cotton top or the £17 cotton-and-polyester blouse. You can't have both.

Neither Richard nor Judy could come to the party.
I want neither alcohol nor cigars for my birthday. Now that I'm fifty I must live a healthier life.
Both either and neither can function as pronouns, determiners or adverbs.

When they function as pronouns, they are often followed by of + noun phrase:

I've known you for two years, but I haven't met either of your two brothers yet.
(OR: I've known you for two years, but I haven't met either Francis or Damien yet.)

Neither of my two brothers survived the war. Neither Francis, nor Damien.

Which of these fur coats is yours?
Neither (of them). That one's mine.

When they function as adverbs, they behave as linking words which can be tagged on in agreement at the end of a negative sentence. But with neither, subject and verb are inverted, with either this does not happen:

I can't make the meeting on Tuesday.
No, neither can I (OR: No, nor can I.)

I can't make the meeting on Tuesday.
No, I can't either.

I don't approve of sex before marriage.
No, neither do I. (OR: No, nor do I.)

I don't approve of sex before marriage.
No, I don't either.

I don't go mountain climbing and I don't go mountain walking, either.
(OR: I don't go mountain climbing and neither do I go mountain walking.

Too can function as an adding adverb which is placed in agreement at the end of an affirmative sentence. Compare the following:

I like peaches and nectarines best.
Yeah, I like peaches and nectarines, too.

I don't like peaches or nectarines.
No, I don't like peaches or nectarines, either.

When either and neither function as determiners, they are placed before the noun.

On neither side of the road was there anybody to be seen.

Neither player could raise his game. It was a very boring game of tennis to watch.

The sisters in the photograph were standing on either side of their dad. (OR: ...on each side..., OR: ...on both sides....)

Neither of them is or neither of them are?
Although this of-pronoun is normally considered singular, it is normally followed by plural nouns or pronouns. Thus, the boundary between singular and plural is blurred and effectively it can go with either a singular or plural verb form. Strictly speaking, it should be singular, but you will hear both formulations with no clear preference for one or the other:

Neither of them are coming. They both have to work next weekend.

Neither of them is coming. They both have to work next weekend.

Which of these umbrellas is yours? ~ Neither of them are. That one's mine.

Which of these umbrellas is yours?
Neither is. That's mine.

There is similar confusion, I think, when neither...nor are employed as conjunctions, meaning not one and not the other. Consider the following:

Neither Francoise nor Helmut likes to eat English breakfasts, even at weekends.

Neither Franciose nor Helmut like to eat English breakfasts, even at weekends

Neither Emma nor Susan gets on with Chloe.

Neither Emma nor Susan get on with Chloe.

9 comments:

Be Con Tinh Nghich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Be Con Tinh Nghich said...

I read it again and again.At this time, I realized something not normal,Sir...."_"

Anonymous said...

happy day sir.

meomatbu87 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nguyenhonganhtesol said...

Becon, what's wrong with you?

Anonymous said...

what is difference between " go home" and " come home"?

cabungbu said...

how are your characters in real life

Be Con Tinh Nghich said...

@Sir: hì. I am okie now. Still alive.
@cabungbu: Ur question is great. I wait for his answer with u.

Anonymous said...

Sir, please tell me difference between tell, talk, say, speak?