For years English teachers around the world have been challenged with the task of helping their students understand and assimilate English forms that differ from their own language.
Here I’ll try to help you see how the words both, neither and either are used. All three of these words are used to refer to two different subjects. Here are the basic uses to these three words.
The word “both” is used when someone wants to communicate that two different things are affirmative. Imagine someone wants to know which city in Spain the Prado museum and Atocha station can be found.
Both the Prado museum and Atocha station are in Madrid. These two places exist in Madrid at the same time.
The word “neither” is used when someone wants to communicate that two different things are negative. Imagine someone wants to know if the Sagrada Familia and the Guggenheim museum can be found in Madrid.
Neither the Sagrada Familia nor the Guggenheim museum can be found in Madrid.
Notice how the word “nor” replaces the word “or” when we use the word “neither”.
The word “either” is used when two things are possible but not at the same time.
Imagine a friend of yours is a surfer and another friend of yours is a golfer. On Saturday morning at 10:00 both of your friends are doing their respective activities and they have both invited you to take part.
You can either go surfing or play golf that morning at 10:00. You can’t do both at the same time.
These are the three basic uses of these three words. We hope this will help you understand these words when you hear them and give you some confidence to try to use them when you use English.
BY: JOHN W. WENTZ