easy grammar · ESL grammar · Grammar

I Don’t Have a Sister, and My Sister Doesn’t, Either – How to Use Either and Neither (and Nor)

 porridge

Either and neither mean nothing more than “also not.”

However you can’t say also not in English. It just doesn’t exist in English. Instead, we use either and neither.

You use either with “not,” but you need to use neither with a positive verb.

So like this:

Either + not + verb

Neither + positive verb

This is because in English you mostly can’t use two negatives in the same sentence.

I’ll give you plenty of examples of how it works, so don’t worry if you didn’t quite understand what I just said.

Suppose you don’t like porridge.

And your friend doesn’t like porridge.

So you say:

I don’t like porridge and my friend doesn’t like porridge either.

Or you can say:

I don’t like porridge and neither does my friend.

Or you can also use neither and nor, like this:

Neither I nor my friend like porridge.

Please note again that with neither you use a positive verb.

Example 2:

The printer doesn’t work and the fax doesn’t work.

So you can say:

The printer doesn’t work and the fax doesn’t (work) either.

(You can leave out “work” when it’s the same verb in the second part of the sentence.)

Or:

The printer doesn’t work and neither does the fax.

Or:

Neither the printer nor the fax works.

So when you have two things that are not something, you can also use neither – nor.

Careful: don’t use either with nor.

Confusing? Nooooo. Don’t give up yet. Just have a look at some more examples.

Example 3:

Jessica won’t come to the party. Brad won’t come to the party.

So now I can say:

Jessica won’t come to the party and neither will Brad.

Jessica won’t come to the party and Brad won’t (come) either.

Neither Jessica nor Brad will come to the party.

Example 4:

I’ve lost my keys. They weren’t under the mat and not on the windowsill.

The keys weren’t under the mat and not on the windowsill either.

The keys were neither under the mat nor on the windowsill.

Example 5:

The detective didn’t see the hair on the coat. He didn’t see the blood on the tea towel. (This detective is going to be fired from his job very soon!)

The detective didn’t see the hair on the coat and not the blood on the tea towel either.

The detective didn’t see the hair on the coat and neither did he see the blood on the tea towel.

The detective neither saw the hair on the coat nor the blood on the tea towel.

Example 6:

The Smiths don’t celebrate Halloween, and the Joneses don’t celebrate Halloween.

The Smiths don’t celebrate Halloween, and the Joneses don’t celebrate Halloween either.

The Smiths don’t celebrate Halloween, and neither do the Joneses.

Neither the Smiths nor the Joneses celebrate Halloween.

Last example:

Example 7:

I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t cry.

I couldn’t laugh and I couldn’t cry either.

I could neither laugh nor cry.

Now you’re going to write some sentences as practice.

You may write only one sentence, but in the answers that I’ll give you afterwards I will write all the possibilities, like in the examples above. So if you’ve written one of the possible sentences, your sentence was okay.

1 The secretary doesn’t have the key to the front door. The receptionist doesn’t have the key to the front door.

2 It won’t rain today and it won’t rain tomorrow.

3 Pam never eats fish and Jacob never eats fish.

4 The manager isn’t aware of the problem and the software engineer isn’t aware of the problem.

5 Maryam didn’t see the accident. Wayne didn’t see the accident.

6 Carrie isn’t playing yet. All is Lost isn’t playing yet. (Note: These are new movies that aren’t yet in the cinema.)

7 The teacher didn’t mention the exam. She didn’t mention the hand-in date for the essay.

 

You can check your answers at the bottom of this page:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers: 

I’ve written all the possible answers.

1 The secretary doesn’t have the key to the front door. The receptionist doesn’t have the key to the front door.

The secretary doesn’t have the key to the front door and the receptionist doesn’t have it either.

The secretary doesn’t have the key to the front door and neither does the receptionist.

Neither the secretary nor the receptionist has the key to the front door.

 

2 It won’t rain today and it won’t rain tomorrow.

It won’t rain today and it won’t rain tomorrow either.

It won’t rain today and neither will it rain tomorrow.

It will neither rain today nor tomorrow.

 

3 Pam never eats fish and Jacob never eats fish.

Pam never eats fish and Jacob never eats fish either.

Pam never eats fish and neither does Jacob (eat fish).

Neither Pam nor Jacob ever eats fish.

 

4 The manager isn’t aware of the problem and the software engineer isn’t aware of the problem.

The manager isn’t aware of the problem and the software engineer isn’t aware of the problem either.

The manager isn’t aware of the problem and neither is the software engineer (aware of the problem).

Neither the manager nor the software engineer is aware of the problem.

 

5 Maryam didn’t see the accident. Wayne didn’t see the accident.

Maryam didn’t see the accident and Wayne didn’t see the accident either.

Maryam didn’t see the accident and neither did Wayne (see the accident).

Neither Maryam nor Wayne saw the accident.

 

6 Carrie isn’t playing yet. All is Lost isn’t playing yet.

Carrie isn’t playing yet and All is Lost isn’t (playing) yet either.

Carrie isn’t playing yet and neither is All is Lost.

Neither Carrie nor All is Lost is playing yet.

 

7 The teacher didn’t mention the exam. She didn’t mention the hand-in date for the essay.

The teacher didn’t mention the exam and she didn’t mention the hand-in date for the essay either.

The teacher didn’t mention the exam and neither did she mention the hand-in date for the essay.

The teacher neither mentioned the exam nor the hand-in date for the essay.

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