There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Either and neither may sound a bit strange, but all you need to remember is that they mean: also not. They are used when one thing doesn’t happen, and then the second thing doesn’t happen.
When you have the word “not” in your sentence, use “either.”
Lucy isn’t coming to the party. Lucien isn’t coming either.
Willem didn’t know the answer. Vicky didn’t either.
The patient didn’t feel well. The doctor didn’t feel good either.
When you don’t have “not” in your sentence, use “neither.”
I don’t like spring onions. Neither does my sister.
My neighbours don’t have a balcony and neither do I.
I haven’t seen John in a while. Have you? – No, neither have I.
Note: English people pronounce either and neither as [aither] and [naither]. The American pronunciation sounds like [eether] and [neether].
Note 2: You can also use either or neither when there is a choice between things. But we’ll talk about that some other time.
Now do Exercise 1:
Fill in: either or neither
1 I don’t know in which city the Shears Building is. – I don’t know ___________.
2 Drat. My phone doesn’t work and my computer isn’t working ____________.
3 He isn’t religious, and _____________ is his wife.
4 She isn’t great at tennis, and her boyfriend isn’t _____________.
5 They don’t like reading. They don’t like cooking _____________.
6 She hasn’t found my book yet. ___________ have I.
7 We don’t have time to go out anymore. – ____________ do we.
8 You’re not allowed to feed the monkeys in the zoo. You’re not allowed to feed the bears ___________.
Finish the conversation. Write sentences with either and neither.
At the gym
Lucy: Blah. There’s a yoga class again in room number 1. I don’t like yoga.
Lucy: So let’s check out room 2. What’s in there?
Lucien: Kickboxing. It’s tiring, and I can’t do those high kicks.
Lucy: ____________________________. What’s in room 3?
Lucien: Stretching. You need to be very supple for that. And I’m not.
Lucy: _____________________. So what can we do? Run on the stepper again? I don’t like running.
Lucien: __________________________. Maybe hit the bar?
Lucy: Let’s go.
Answers to the exercises: scroll down.
At the gym
Lucien: I don’t either. / I don’t like yoga either. / Neither do I.
Lucy: I can’t do them either. / I can’t either. / I can’t do those high kicks either. / Neither can I.
Lucy: I’m not either. / I’m not supple either. / Neither am I.
Lucien: I don’t either. / I don’t like running either. / Neither do I.