As a pronoun, either is used to mean a choice of one or the other of two people or things, and it often comes before the word of.

  • I am going to have a tattoo on either of my arms.
  • You can have either of these buns; one is for your brother.
 

As a pronoun, neither is used to mean not one and not the other, and it often comes before of followed by the plural noun phrase. We often use neither to start a sentence or reply to a question.

  • Neither of her parents approves of her staying out late night after night.
  • “Do you want a coffee or a tea?” “Neither, thanks.”
 

Either and Neither

Either and neither are singular subjects, so the verb that follows them has to be singular.

Examples:

  • Police are questioning the two suspects as either of them is the real killer.
  • Either of the twin brothers has a big mole on the chest.
  • Neither of the two small donkeys is ready to carry heavy loads.
  • Neither of the buses plying this route carries many passengers at this time of night. (Two buses)

We can use either or neither on its own.

  • Do you want to read this book or that one? Either. I like reading.
  • Which of your shoes is missing? Neither. I have found the missing one.

 

Neither and negative verb

We cannot use neither and a negative verb in a sentence as both negatives together will give a positive idea. In place of it, we use either.

  • He doesn’t want to take either of these pills.
  • Not : He doesn’t want to take neither of these pills.

 

Neither and ‘both … not …

We need not use “both … not … “ all the time. We can use neither instead.

  • Both of them don’t know how a ghost looks like.
  • Neither of them knows how a ghost looks like.