Neither vs. Either

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When writing a report or essay, you may have to use the word neither or either. The question is, do you know how to use them properly in a sentence or in general conversation? Either and neither are similar words, but they have separate meanings. The word neither refers negatively to a pair of choices: I went shopping to find a pair of shoes. I found two pairs that I liked to but neither of them were in my size.

You can also use neither to mean “not one of two things.” For example, neither of my parents like my new husband is a shorter way of saying my dad doesn’t like my new husband, and my mom doesn’t like my new husband.

You can think of neither as a shortened version of “not either,” meaning “no” to both of two choices.

Either, meanwhile, is one or the other. For example: I’m either going to have steak or chicken for dinner tonight or I will either go to the store after work or just go straight home if I’m too tired.

The best way to differentiate either and neither is to remember that one is positive and the other is negative. That’s why either goes with or and neither goes with nor.

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