Neither-Nor vs. Either-Or
What is the difference between "neither-nor" and "either-or"?
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"Neither" and "Nor"
"Neither" is a singular adjective and can be paired with "nor" in a sentence. "Neither" is never paired with "or". When using "neither" in a sentence, you are saying not the first object and not the second object are behaving in a certain way. The nouns/pronouns are in agreement with one another. "Nor" can also be used independently when negating the second part of two negative clauses.
- Neither Corie nor Bob went to the play.
Corie isn't going to the play. Bob isn't going to the play.
- She said, "I don't like broccoli." I said, "Neither do I."
Neither is used here because she doesn't like broccoli, and I don't like broccoli. (You may hear people say,"Me neither," this is colloquial and not grammatically correct. You wouldn't say, "Me don't like broccoli.")
- She didn't want to sing, nor did she want to dance.
"Either" and "Or"
"Either" is also a singular adjective. It means one or the other, but not both. "Either" expresses one noun/pronoun doing one thing and the other noun/pronoun doing another; in this way it is a "positive" word because what is occurring is true. "Either" can be paired with "or", but not "nor".
- She wanted to paint either a landscape or a self-portrait.
She wanted to paint one or the other, but not both.
- I can't remember if either Georgia or Julia wanted a doll for Christmas.
One of the girls wanted a doll, but not both.
The Singular and Plural of It...
Remember: If your element (the words that follow neither or either) is singular, then your verb needs to be singular; if one or both of your elements is plural, then your verb need to be plural.
- Neither Jaymee nor Dave is having a party.
Jaymee and Dave are singular, so you use the singular "is", not "were".
- Either the dancer or the acrobats are doing the tricks.
One of the subjects is plural, so "are" instead of "is" is used.
The question remains....
What is the answer to the above question: “Peter has not gone to school today, _______ has he done his homework”?
First, we know that it is not "either" or "or" because Peter is not doing both actions. Another way to look at this sentence is to think of it worded like this: Peter has neither gone to school today, nor has he done his homework. So, the correct answer would be "nor". We also know that "nor" can be used independently when negating the second part of two independent clauses.
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