Welcome to this comprehensive grammar tutorial on the usage of the words 'Either' and 'Neither' as determiners. These are commonly used words and understanding their correct use is key to expressing your thoughts accurately in English. In this tutorial, we’ll explore several rules, examples and tips that will help you utilize 'Either' and 'Neither' effectively as determiners.
Overview of Either and Neither as Determiners
In English, the words 'Either' and 'Neither' function not only as pronouns or conjunctions but also as determiners. A determiner is a word that introduces a noun and provides context about its quantity, proximity, definiteness, and so on. 'Either' suggests 'one or the other of two', while 'neither' infers 'not one, and also not the other of two'.
The use of 'Either' as a Determiner
Rule 1: Choosing between Two
When used as a determiner, 'Either' indicates a choice or possibility between two things or individuals. In this case, 'Either' is always followed by a singular noun. It serves to prepare the listener or reader for the two alternatives that will be presented.
Example: "You can take either bus. Either will get you to the city center."
Rule 2: 'Either' at the End of a Sentence
At times, 'either' can be used at the end of a statement to suggest that the same idea applies to 'one or the other of two things'.
Example: "I don't mind whether we travel by train or by plane – I like travelling either way."
The use of 'Neither' as a Determiner
Rule 1: Denying Both Options
'Neither', acting as a determiner, is used to deny both of two possibilities. It often comes before a singular noun but can also be used before plural nouns in cases where it's followed by 'of' and a determiner (the, my, these).
Example: "Neither argument made sense to me."
Rule 2: 'Neither' at the End of a Sentence
'Neither' can also be used at the end of a sentence to imply that 'the same negative condition applies to two things'.
Example: "Jim isn’t married and Bob isn’t either."
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Error 1: Using 'Either' and 'Neither' for More Than Two Items
A common mistake is to use 'either' and 'neither' when referring to more than two items or people. Remember, these determiners are used to reference only two things or individuals.
Incorrect: "You can visit either France, Italy, or Spain next summer."
Correct: "You can visit France, Italy, or Spain next summer."
Error 2: Using Plural Nouns with 'Either' and 'Neither'
Remember to always follow 'either' and 'neither' with singular nouns when they are acting as determiners.
Incorrect: "Neither books are interesting."
Correct: "Neither book is interesting."
Understanding how to use 'either' and 'neither' as determiners enhances your English expression skills, enabling you to convey your ideas clearly and correctly. Just remember: 'either' presents a choice between two entities, and 'neither' indicates a denial of both entities, and both should be followed by singular nouns. Practice and apply these rules consistently and you'll master the usage of these two handy determiners in no time.