Understanding the correct usage of 'either' and 'neither' in grammar is essential, not just to pass an English test but also to improve your conversational skills and writing abilities. In English language, 'either' and 'neither' play crucial roles as they are used to denote choice or agreement and disagreement. But when they are used as pronouns, their role and application change slightly. Let's delve deeper into this aspect of grammar – 'Either' and 'Neither' used as pronouns.
Definition and Usage
'Either' and 'neither' are used as pronouns to mean 'one or the other of two' and 'not one or the other of two', respectively. When used as pronouns, they help the speaker or writer avoid repeating words or phrases in a sentence.
Now, let’s take a detailed look at how these pronouns are used in sentences:
Either as a pronoun
'Either' functions as a pronoun when it is used to replace two choices or options previously mentioned. The most common pattern is: "Either is + adjective/verb."
- “I have two dresses. Either is nice for the party.” (Here, 'either' represents 'either dress')
Neither as a pronoun
'Neither' serves as a pronoun when it represents the negative of 'either'. It is used to denote that neither of two previously mentioned options is acceptable or is the case.
- “I have evening classes on Monday and Tuesday. Neither is optional.” (Here, 'neither' represents 'neither class')
Rules and Usage
When using 'either' and 'neither' as pronouns, it's also crucial to understand the different rules that come into play. The following rules will guide you through their correct usage:
Rule 1: Subject-verb Agreement
When 'either' or 'neither' is used as the subject of the sentence, it is always considered singular, thus requiring a singular verb.
- “Either is fine with me.”
- “Neither of the dresses fits me.”
Rule 2: Usage with 'of'
When used with 'of', 'either' and 'neither' can refer to one of more than two items or people. Remember to use them with a plural noun and a singular verb.
- “Either of the three dresses is suitable for the party.”
- “Neither of the books is interesting.”
Rule 3: Using 'Neither' to agree with Negative Sentences
'Neither' is commonly used in reply to a negative statement, showing agreement in denial.
- Person A: "I don't like horror movies."
Person B: "Neither do I."
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
A common mistake English learners make when using 'either' and 'neither' as pronouns is regarding subject-verb agreement. Remember that when these terms are used as pronouns, they should always be followed by a singular verb.
Another frequent error is using 'either' when 'neither' is needed and vice versa. The rule of thumb here is to use 'either' when referring to one or the other of two options, and 'neither' when denying both options.
Also, we don't use 'not' with 'neither' because 'neither' already has a negative meaning. Saying 'not neither' is a double negative and is regarded as incorrect in standard English.
Understanding how to use 'either' and 'neither' as pronouns not only improves your sentence structure and coherency but also helps in eliminating repetition. Be sure that these pronouns agree in number with the verb they are modifying to ensure grammatically correct sentences. Happy learning!