Use of either/or and neither/nor


Learning English is a pursuit that requires a lot of hard work. You have to commit yourself wholeheartedly if you want to perfect the language. Although perfection is difficult to achieve and even experts hold the same view, you can learn and practice the basics in order to sharpen your communication skills. Grammar is at the crux of effective communication. Unless your concepts of grammar are clear, it is hard for you to frame grammatically correct sentences.

Either_or and Neither_nor

While speaking in English, you may not look at the grammar aspect so much and would perhaps speak what sounds right. But it is important to frame sentences that also adhere with the grammar rules. Most of us get confused between the use of either/or and neither/nor. These pairings can be used to group two things or people.

Let us look at a few examples to understand the concept.

a) He could neither go out nor could he watch T.V.
b) Either your mother has the keys or the neighbor’s.
c) He was either an engineer or a doctor from his nerdy looks.

Usage of neither/nor is basically during a negative statement. But a question mark arises when we use a double negative statement. When we use a double negative, it means the outcome of the sentence is a positive one.


a) Carl does not know nothing.
b) Damian did not mention about the results neither today nor yesterday.

Double negatives are not grammatically wrong, but they  completely contrast the statements of what the speaker intended to say. But double negatives are not always a mistake. The only harm it does to a sentence is that it changes the course of the sentence.


a) There aren’t no presents to open. (There are presents to open)
b) The stadium officials would not allow no spectators. (The stadium officials would want the spectators)
c) Emilia is not unimpressive. (Emilia is impressive)
d) She never gets out to play with nobody. (She gets out only if she has a company)

Another issue in the course of learning the usage of either/or and neither/nor is mixing them. We cannot mix ‘either’ with ‘nor’ and ‘neither’ with ‘or’. They do not mix well. It is very common to omit ‘either’ in the sentence with groupings of ‘either/or’.

By this we have got to know the use of groupings ‘either/or’ and ‘neither/nor’ and how its knowledge of use might help you improve your English speaking skills. By joining an online spoken English course you can learn more concepts related to English and master it.

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-By Chander Madan

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